ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday said Pakistan was committed to Afghan peace and regional stability.

In a meeting with outgoing Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Shukrullah Atif Mishal here, the FM said Pakistan will continue playing facilitating role for regional peace and stability, including Afghan peace process. The Foreign Minister said that durable peace and stability in the region is linked to peace in Afghanistan.

He said intra-Afghan dialogue will pave the way for sustainable peace in Afghanistan. “The Afghan Ambassador thanked the Foreign Minister for good wishes,” said a foreign ministry statement.

Mishal also met Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood who reiterated Pakistan’s steadfast support for Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process.

Sohail Mahmood said Pakistan was committed to enhance bilateral cooperation with Afghanistan.

Over the weekend, Pakistan had welcomed the Afghan Loya Jirga’s recommendation to release remaining 400 Taliban prisoners. 

Pakistan has repeatedly emphasized that the Afghan leaders must seize this historic opportunity and work together constructively through Intra-Afghan Negotiations to secure a comprehensive, broad-based and inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan.

Earlier, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he will approve the release of 400 jailed Taliban militants in the final part of a prisoner swap meant to clear the way for the start of intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban.

Ghani announced his intention to release the prisoners, shortly after the move was recommended by 3,400 prominent Afghans at a three-day Loya Jirga in Kabul.

The head of the Loya Jirga, Abdullah Abdullah, said the Loya Jirga’s August 9 resolution removed the last remaining obstacle to the beginning of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives under the format of intra-Afghan talks.

Meanwhile, Qureshi held a video call with Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov of Uzbekistan. Matters of mutual interest, including the Covid-19 Pandemic, bilateral cooperation and regional situation were discussed.

The Foreign Minister underlined that Pakistan and Uzbekistan enjoy cordial and brotherly relations and expressed satisfaction on the goodwill that existed between Pakistan and Uzbekistan at the leadership and official level which is also manifested in the people-to-people contacts.

Qureshi thanked his Uzbek counterpart for the assistance extended by the government of Uzbekistan to repatriate stranded Pakistani nationals from Tashkent. 

He also apprised him of the steps being taken by the Government of Pakistan to save lives and secure livelihoods in the wake of the Pandemic.

In the bilateral context, the Foreign Minister stated that the Inaugural Session of Bilateral Political Consultations shall be held in Islamabad as soon as COVID-19 situation stabilizes. 

 

The two Ministers underlined the need to increase the volume of mutual trade and expedite finalization of other bilateral initiatives.

The Foreign Minister also highlighted demonization of Muslims in India in the context of Covid-19, underlining that it should be rejected by the international community.

Foreign Minister apprised his Uzbek counterpart that the intensified ceasefire violations by India and enhanced tensions pose threat to regional and international peace and security and highlighted Pakistan’s efforts to sensitize the world about such risks.

He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to facilitate peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. He expressed hope that commencement of Intra-Afghan Negotiations will contribute towards this process.

The Foreign Minister expressed thanks for the invitation extended to him to visit Uzbekistan and expressed willingness to undertake the visit at the earliest convenience.

The two FMs agreed to remain in close contact to take forward the important bilateral agenda and close cooperation in the regional context.