BY GRANT McCOOL ISLAMABAD, JAN. 9, REUTER — Relations between Pakistan and the Soviet Union will improve as Afghanistan’s war moves closer to a political solution, officials and political analysts say.
A firm public exchange between visiting Soviet First Deputy Prime Minister Yuli Vorontsov and Senior Pakistan Foreign Ministry Official Humayun Khan at the weekend underlined the differences.
Vorontsov, on a mission to persuade Afghanistan’s Moslem guerrillas based in Pakistan and Iran to accept Soviet plans for a broadly-based government in Kabul, accused Islamabad of violating the Geneva accords which provide for Soviet troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by February 15, “We have a strong case against Pakistan. It failed to fulfill the obligations of the accords,” he told reporters.
“We can prove it if we go to a court, for instance, the International Court of Justice.” Vorontsoy said.
Khan replied: “You can go to a court, can you also prove your case?”
Khan said none of the allegations made to the United Nations Good Of fices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP) had been substantiated. The official Afghan Press, the news agency Bakhtar and Radio Kabul have reported 177 notices being sent by the Kabul government to UNGOMAP.
Political analyst Samiullah Koreshi, a former Pakistan ambassador to countries in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia, said Khan’s responses were significant for the relationship between Moscow and Islamabad.
“But talks between Pakistan and the Soviet Union should not be totally tied to Afghanistan,” Koreshi told Reuters.
Pakistan officials said four days of meetings with Vorontsov which ended on Saturday were “positive and useful” and a high-level delegation would probably visit Moscow later this year.
Pakistan newspapers said a minister would visit Moscow to sign agreements on economic, trade, scientific and cultural cooperation. They quoted Ambassador Victor Yakunin as Saying the Soviet Union was actively considering building an atomic power plant in Pakistan.
Seven parties of varying Islamic tone have used the northwestern Pakistan town of Peshawar as their headquarters in the nine-year war against the Soviet backed government in Kabul. A group of eight based in Iran was also represented at last week’s talks.
The Kremlin aide, who held nearly five hours of talks in Islamabad with the guerrillas without making progress, said Pakistan was obliged to stop harboring the Mujahideen.
Moslem Pakistan, for the duration of the Afghan war under the rule of former President Mohammad ZiaulHaq, has been a strong ally of the guerrillas since Moscow sent troops there in 1979 to prop up the administration.
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, elected in November after the death of Zia in a mysterious plane crash last August, said after meeting Vorontsov that relations with Moscow would improve once the Afghanistan conflict was settled.
Both countries said they were committed to helping Afghans reach a_ political settlement, but Koreshi said it appeared the terms offered by Voronstov were “not at all acceptable to the Mujahideen and Pakistan.”
The analyst said Islamabad feared the ceasefire Moscow and Kabul wanted the rebels to accept would freeze the status quo and lead to a partition of Afghanistan, “the word ‘ceasefire’ is a beautiful word, it sounds very humanitarian and peaceful, but not if it causes some sort of partition,” he said.
The guerrillas claim they control as much as 90 per cent of the country. Western diplomats in Islamabad say the Mujahideen were correct in not reciprocating Kabul’s unilateral ceasefire from January 1 because it was not clear how it would be defined.
Vorontsov said rejection of the ceasefire meant Afghan rebels would continue killing their own citizens.
Pakistan was also skeptical about Soviet proposals for an international conference because it feared archrival India would become involved. Moscow has close ties with New Delhi.
“Vorontsov’s plans should not be seen in a small framework, but as part of a larger picture in international relations,” the analyst said.
Vorontsov said guerrilla leader Sibghatullah Mojaddidi both said another round of talks would be held at a future date.
Koreshi said it was a positive sign the talks between the Soviet Union and the guerrillas had not broken down and that they had discussed the composition of a council, or shora, of Afghans to govern the country.
“These talks could fill a gap left by the Geneva accords, there was nothing in them for Afghans to form a new government,” the analyst said.
Article extracted from this publication >> January 13, 1989