ISLAMABAD: Britain has launched diplomatic efforts to end the lingering stalemate between Islamabad and Kabul, whose ties have been strained for months due to differences on how to deal with the problem of militancy, as well as finding a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. For this purpose, British Ambassador to Afghanistan Dominic Jermey on Wednesday held talks with Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Naseer Khan Janjua. It was unusual for an envoy posted in Kabul to travel to Islamabad. Diplomatic sources told that Jermey’s visit was part of efforts by his country to defuse the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Relations between the two neighbours have been tense for months and deteriorated further after recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. Kabul accused Islamabad of allowing terrorists to maintain safe havens in the tribal areas. Pakistan dismissed the allegations outright and insisted that increasing instability within Afghanistan has allowed terrorist groups to flourish. Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s efforts to mend ties did not succeed as despite telephone call to President Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan stuck to its earlier allegations. Against this backdrop, the British envoy to Kabul travelled to Islamabad.
A Foreign Office statement confirmed that Ambassador Jermey, who was accompanied by British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew, met Sartaj Aziz to discuss peace and security situation in Afghanistan. Aziz, the statement added, shared with Ambassador Jermey, Pakistan’s success in counterterrorism and its willingness to engage with the government of Afghanistan in order to improve relations and promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. The British ambassador stressed that the United Kingdom looked forward to playing a facilitative role to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. Both sides agreed on the need of continuous efforts towards reconciliation process with the goal of achieving sustained peace in Afghanistan. The British envoy also met NSA Janjua, who informed him that Pakistan would fully support the international community’s efforts for reconciliation in Afghanistan and stability in the region. “Peace in Afghanistan is a pre-requisite for stability in the whole region and there is a need for positive and pro-active role by the Afghan government which can fain achieving political reconciliation within Afghanistan,” Gen Janjua was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan. He said Pakistan and Afghanistan were close neighbours and Pakistan envisages cordial bilateral relations with Afghanistan, based on mutual trust and cooperation. He appreciated the role of UK in maintaining regional peace and stability and cooperation in counterterrorism.