The sixth trilateral summit between Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan, hosted by Turkish President Abdullah Gül on Tuesday in Beşiktaş, concluded with the three countries signing agreements and memoranda of understanding for cooperation in various areas and expressing willingness to join hands in working towards peace and security in the region. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, in a statement to the Financial Times, said the trilateral summit between Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan comes at a “critical” time due to the increasing tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Afghan-Pakistani relations remain strained after both accused the other of supporting terrorist attacks and activities in one another's countries. Afghanistan also has accused the Pakistani spy agency of involvement in the recent assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabani. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, calling the trilateral summit a significant move in the right direction, said: “The unfortunate assassination of Rabbani has thrown the entire [peace] exercise into difficulty. It was almost the end of negotiations.”
In fact, the summit was the first meeting between the two neighbors since the assassination.
Gül and Karzai said one of the most important results of the trilateral summit was the creation of a joint mechanism between the Afghan and Pakistani governments' intelligence officials on the assassination of Rabbani. “If there is tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan, there cannot be a healthy transition,” Davutoğlu said, referring to the Afghan security forces' plans to assume responsibility for the security of the country as foreign troops pull out of the region.
After the signing ceremony Gül, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Karzai discussed the fruits of what they called very “sincere, effective” meetings between the three leaders as well as their senior officials and military leaders. Both Zardari and Karzai thanked Turkey, their “devoted brother,” for hosting the summit and cultivating the grounds for such meaningful dialogue between the two countries. “We are happy to have a brother like Turkey on our side,” Karzai said.
All leaders emphasized the complexity and difficulty of finding a solution to security and peace in the region. Zardari, calling Afghanistan the "graveyard of empires," stressed: “NATO and other national armies have been there for 10 years. If it was easy, the problem would have been solved by now.”
Pakistan's Zardari said its neighbor Turkey, not non-state actors and interest groups, is in the best position to take steps for peace and stability. He said: “Some well-intentioned friends from afar may want to help but would not know our culture and traditions. Turkey, our brother and fellow Muslim country, is better placed to guide us.” (HE USED THE WORD "PLACED")
When asked to explain his remarks that talks should be held with Pakistan and not the Taliban, Karzai said Afghanistan had been committed to meeting with Taliban leaders. “Then it came out one of the members of the peace talks turned out to be a suicide bomber and killed former President Rabbani. We cannot have conversations with suicide bombers. We will not talk with the Taliban until we have the telephone number of the Taliban, a door to knock at of the Taliban, and a representative of the Taliban we can meet who is not a suicide bomber.”
The trilateral summit is followed by the “İstanbul Conference for Afghanistan: Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia,” an international conference to be hosted by Davutoğlu on Wednesday with the participation of representatives from more than 20 countries to discuss ways of contributing to stability and peace in Afghanistan.
Davutoğlu, calling the main goal of Wednesday's conference on Afghanistan “regional ownership,” said: “Stability in Afghanistan means stability in the region. Instability in Afghanistan means instability in the region.”