Pakistan, Russia want moderate Govt in Afghanistan post-NATO pullout

     Pakistan and Russia have expressed a desire to see a "moderate" government in Afghanistan that can live at peace with its neighbours once NATO forces pullout. A Pakistani official has said the two countries have decided to support an "all-inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue" to guide war-ravaged Afghanistan towards lasting peace, reports The Express Tribune. "The Afghan endgame was one of the key subjects that came under discussions between Pakistani authorities and the Russian foreign minister, who travelled to Islamabad last week," a senior government official was quoted, as saying.

Relations between the former Cold War rivals have shown significant improvement in recent months due to quiet diplomacy, the paper said. The situation in Afghanistan is believed to have been one of the key motivating factors that compelled the two countries to move beyond their bitter past. Following a meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, an official statement said the two countries share common views on Afghanistan.

According to an official, Islamabad and Moscow are increasingly concerned about the future of Afghanistan once the U.S.-led foreign forces pull out of the country. "There are genuine fears that Afghanistan may once again slip into the civil war," the official added. He said both Pakistan and Russia agreed that only broad-based intra-Afghan dialogue could pave the way for real reconciliation. Lavrov said Afghanistan should take the lead in any process leading to a political settlement. He said any attempt to impose a solution from outside would not succeed in what appears to be a clear reference to Washington's efforts to make peace with insurgents while bypassing the Afghan administration.

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