ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Afghanistan inched towards peace on Sunday as China intervened to end the tension between the two Muslim-majority countries.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Afghanistan and Pakistan from June 24 to 25th as part of Beijing’s peace efforts on the invitation of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The three parties condemned the recent terrorist attacks that occurred in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and extended condolences to the deceased and expressed sympathy with the affected people, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The three parties had in-depth exchange of views on the Afghan issue, the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral cooperation, and reached consensus on several points, it said.

Addressing a joint news conference with Adviser to Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China wanted a peaceful and stable Afghanistan to ensure development and prosperity and would work with Pakistan and Afghan government for durable peace.

Pakistan and China, he said, had agreed to strengthen mutual cooperation and coordination in dealing with the common challenges.

Yi said that Pakistan was playing a vital role in ensuring peace and stability in the region.

He said that Pakistan had rendered unprecedented sacrifices in war on terror and the world should appreciate and acknowledge those efforts.

Yi said that Pakistan was also playing a crucial role in completing the projects under the umbrella of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a part of One Belt, One Road vision.

A Chinese foreign ministry statement, meanwhile said that China had urged Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations and establish a crisis prevention and management mechanism.

“China sincerely wishes for Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations, rebuild mutual trust strengthen cooperation, achieve mutual safety and mutually development,” Wang Yi said, according to the communiqué.

Speaking on the occasion, Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan had consistently emphasised that peace and stability in Afghanistan “is in our interest and a stable Afghanistan would help us promote our shared agenda of economic development and regional connectivity.”

He said that Pakistan’s relations with China were the cornerstone of our foreign policy.

Aziz said: “We took stock of the progress made in bilateral relations, including political, strategic and economic cooperation and identified areas for further consolidation of the “all-weather” relationship between Pakistan and China.”

He said that China had appreciated the resolute steps taken by Pakistan to counter the menace of terrorism and both countries agreed that terrorism was a common challenge.

It is also a challenge to global peace and stability, Aziz added.

The adviser said that the next phase of the CPEC part of the wider One Belt, One Road initiative would not be confined to physical connectivity only but would also promote connectivity of ideas, cultures and people.

Aziz said that Pakistan wanted peaceful relations with all its neighbours including India and they had agreed on the need for strategic balance in South Asia.

He said that Pakistan informed China about its efforts to strengthen cooperation with the Afghan government in counter-terrorism, border management and voluntary and sustainable return of Afghan refugees.

Aziz also emphasised on the need for the two countries to pursue their abiding commitment to not let their respective soils be used against each other.

He said that Pakistan was very grateful to China for its constructive proposals for promoting peace and harmony in the region.

Aziz said that according to these proposals Pakistan, Afghanistan and China had agreed to conduct foreign ministers dialogue to discuss all aspects of Afghanistan-Pakistan relations with special focus on economic cooperation.

He said that it was also agreed that a bilateral crisis management mechanism between Afghanistan and Pakistan would also be established.

Aziz said that this would enable the two sides to maintain timely and effective communications in case of any emergencies, including terrorist attacks.

He said that Afghanistan, Pakistan and China also agreed on the need for reviving the Quadrilateral Coordination Group process in order to create a conducive environment for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

According to a communiqué issued after the end of Yi’s visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan, “the three parties are all committed to maintaining regional peace and stability, enhancing regional connectivity and economic cooperation and promoting shared security and development.”

It said: “Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are willing to improve relations with each other, strengthen political mutual trust, enhance cooperation in various fields including counter-terrorism, and jointly meet security challenges. The Chinese side hopes Afghanistan and Pakistan could maintain stable and sound relations, and is willing to provide necessary assistance in this regard based on the needs of both sides.”

It added: “Afghanistan and Pakistan agree to establish a crisis management mechanism, which will include prevention through timely and effective intelligence and information sharing, and other mutually-agreed measures. This would enable the two sides to maintain timely and effective communications in case of any emergencies, including terrorist attacks, with a view to seeking proper solution through dialogue and consultation and preventing deterioration of the situation which might have a negative effect on the bilateral relationship. The Chinese side will support this mechanism.”

The communiqué said: “The three parties agree to establish the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ dialogue mechanism to cooperate on issues of mutual interest, beginning with economic cooperation.”

It said: “The three parties believe that peace and reconciliation is the fundamental solution to the Afghan issue, which could not be solved by violent means. The Chinese side and the Pakistani side support the “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” reconciliation process, and stand ready to continue to play a constructive role in advancing this process. The three parties call on the Afghan Taliban to join the reconciliation process at an early date.”

The three parties, it said, “believe that the Quadrilateral Coordination Group should be revived to create an enabling environment for peace talks and for Taliban to join the peace talks.”

The communiqué added: “The three parties support the Kabul process and hold the view that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)-Afghanistan Contact Group should be revived as early as possible to play a constructive role in moving forward the Afghan reconciliation process.”

This week, Pakistan had decided to further enhance monitoring of crossing points with Afghanistan.

The decision was taken during a telephonic conversation by Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan with Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar, Director General Rangers Sindh Major General Muhammad Saeed and Inspector General Frontier Corps Balochistan Major General Nadeem Ahmad.

Yi also met President Mamnoon Hussain and army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Pakistan’s civil and military leadership appreciated China’s efforts to bridge differences between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

 

 

China brings Pakistan, Afghanistan closer

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 26-Jun-2017 here.