ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday warned the United States against spoilers who were unhappy over the US-Afghan Taliban peace deal.

Speaking at a news conference here along with Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that he had urged US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to remain vigilant to those within and outside Afghanistan who could create problems for the peace process. 

He said that in Pakistan’s view this agreement was a key development as the people of Afghanistan wanted peace after a long war.

“We congratulate Taliban as well as the United States over the agreement. Now it is going to be seen whether the parties are ready to show flexibility and how seriously the agreement being implemented,” Qureshi said.

The FM said that a positive momentum could only sustain with further progress. “Afghan peace deal is a key development towards peace in the country,” he remarked.

Qureshi, who was in Qatar’s capital Doha on a three-day visit and attended the historic signing ceremony of the peace agreement between the US and Afghan Taliban, said the “people want peace, now it is the test of the leadership how they act flexibly, what steps the Afghan leadership takes for the roadmap (to the peace). They prefer the national interests or personal interests.” 

He said that even the critics of Pakistan lauded its role in the peace deal. “We raised issues important for peace in Afghanistan in the meeting with Mike Pompeo,” he said.

The signing ceremony of a peace agreement between the US and Afghan Taliban on February 29, was also attended by representatives of 50 countries, including foreign ministers.

Following the successful dialogue, the US and the Afghan Taliban signed the peace deal, marking an end to the 18-year-war in Afghanistan.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar signed the agreement as representatives from each side.

The US and NATO troops will withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months, a joint declaration said, which released minutes before the deal was signed.

FM Qureshi urged for rapid progress and avoiding delay in talks between Afghans. “I talked with the US Secretary of State for attention on political instability within Afghanistan. We don’t want the impact of internal Afghanistan politics over the peace process,” he said.

Qureshi said that the Afghan peace process must be Afghan led and Afghan owned. “We must have durable peace,” he said, adding that the questions were how to achieve that and who will facilitate it. “Afghans must decide, representatives of their various factions and leaders must sit together and create an environment of peace,” he said.

He said: “Afghanistan’s people want peace. It has been a long war and they’ve seen a lot of bloodshed and destruction. They will be able to take a breath of relief when peace comes.”

He said that it remained to be seen whether the Taliban and its leaders would disavow their past communication with Al-Qaeda and other organisations and whether that would be enough to satisfy the world.

“One thing that was decided was that Afghanistan’s land will not be allowed to be used against anyone, not just the US and its allies,” said Qureshi. 

He said that US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told him “they estimate that they didn’t see this much of a reduction in violence in the past four years as they’ve seen in the past week.”

The Taliban have showed their ability to make this happen, said Qureshi. “Now this should continue and if it does, it’s going to create an environment for intra-Afghan dialogue,” he added.

The FM said the US must also address political uncertainties, he said. “We can’t address their internal issues. We don’t want Afghanistan’s internal issues to affect regional peace and become a roadblock. The US can play an important role here,” he said.

“My fourth point of discussion with Pompeo was that international support must be mobilised to support post conflict Afghan reconstruction and the return of refugees. We want them to go home with dignity,” he maintained.

Qureshi said that he also met the foreign ministers of three Central Asian Republic countries–Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan–and discussed “how we can benefit from peace in Afghanistan.” The FM said he wanted to discuss regional connectivity and its enhancement.