Kabul, Islamabad and Ankara hotline set up

Kabul, Islamabad and Ankara hotline set up

Emine Kart ANKARA
Kabul, Islamabad and Ankara hotline set up

Turkish President Gül (L), his Pakistani counterpart Zardari (C) and Afghan counterpart Karzai will review cooperative security measures during talks. Photo by EMRAH GÜLER

An encrypted crisis hotline for visual communication between the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey became functional as of Dec. 9, just 48 hours before the leaders conduct a two-day trilateral summit in Ankara.

“This hotline actually forms a symbol of connectivity between the three leaders,” a diplomatic source said yesterday, noting that the theme of the summit, which will be the seventh of its kind since April 2007, is “connectivity.” The hotline, whose infrastructure has been provided by Turkey, comes after an assassination attempt on Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief Asadullah Khalid that was carried out Dec. 6 by an attacker with a bomb hidden in his underwear that was claiming to be a Taliban peace envoy.

Beware of ‘blame game’

“All three sides have the conviction that whenever positive steps are taken in regards to security cooperation and the reconciliation process between Afghanistan and Pakistan, these kinds of terror attacks take place aiming to sabotage the process,” said the same diplomatic source, while aiming to reflect Turkey’s determination not to allow the assassination attempt to cast a shadow over the summit.

“Both the Afghan and Pakistani sides have assumed a nuanced stance regarding the assassination attempt and they haven’t gotten involved in a blame game. They should calmly continue their cooperation without getting trapped by terrorist activities,” the source added.

Ankara maintains that its unfortunate timing offers a chance to thoroughly review cooperative security measures during talks between Turkish President Abdullah Gül, his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, and his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari. During the summit, Afghanistan and Pakistan will sign a memorandum of understanding on economic and commercial cooperation, while a trilateral commission will also be established for commercial cooperation. Trilateral military exercises and training activities will also be discussed during the summit.