Pak-Iran Afghan peace initiative after UN session
By Umer Farooq
The News Jang
ISLAMABAD: At present dormant, the joint peace initiative of Pakistan and Iran is likely to be revived in the wake of the UN General Assembly Millennium Session, with the aim to convince the Afghan warring factions to agree on a ceasefire, official sources said. As the diplomats of both Pakistan and Iran are busy in the work related with the Millenium Session, the activity related to Afghanistan peace will be renewed after the conclusion of the session.
The Pak-Iran peace initiative is basically being carried out under the umbrella of OIC Contact Group on Afghanistan. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif, who presently chairs the OIC Contact Group, is also the in-charge of UN affairs in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As the season of heavy snowfall is approaching in Afghanistan the efforts for achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan are likely to gain momentum. Experts said that in Afghanistan September is considered the last month to attain military gains and by early October the heavy snowfall enforces a natural ceasefire in Northern Afghanistan.
In the last indirect meeting between Taliban and the Northern Alliance in Saudi Arabia they agreed on a partial ceasefire. Both sides agreed that they would not carry out attacks on civilians and would allow delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians living on both sides of the divide.
Most of the experts said that the possibility of Afghan warring factions agreeing on complete ceasefire is extremely remote. However Pakistani and Iranian diplomats will try to convince the two sides to come to the negotiating table even if they don't agree on a complete ceasefire. In his recent meetings with the Taliban and the Northern Alliance leaders the Special Envoy of Turkmenistan, Sheikh Muradov, also tried to convince the two sides to agree to a ceasefire, as this could be the first step in the direction of direct negotiations and lasting peace.
The biggest hurdle in the way of resolution of the Afghan conflict, as identified by some experts, is that everybody in Afghanistan still thinks that military solution is a possible. One of the experts on Afghanistan told the News that there was a growing opinion in the region that no solution of Afghan conflict is possible without involving the Russian Federation, as it was one of the main suppliers of arms to some of the groups in Afghanistan.
Seen in the light of this perception the Six-Plus-Two Group provides the best forum for multi-party talks on Afghanistan issue. The group involves all the six neighbours of Afghanistan, the United States and the Russian Federation.
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