ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday said that it was hopeful of successful US-Taliban talks for lasting peace in the war-torn country ahead of US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells visit to Islamabad.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said Islamabad was expecting Alice Wells for talks on all issues including Afghanistan and the Middle East tension.

She said that Pakistan and the US will discuss bilateral relations and the regional situation when Alice Wells visits Islamabad in the coming days.

“We are expecting Ambassador Alice Wells in Islamabad. We expect to have discussions in Foreign Office and other Ministries as well on various bilateral issues that are presently on agenda,” she elaborated.

Reports said Wells will be in Islamabad from January 19 to January 22 for talks. Wells, who is a regular visitor to Pakistan, will hold meetings with senior government officials to deliberate upon the matters of mutual and regional interests as the whole world was trying to defuse US-Iran tension.

About the US-Taliban talks, Aisha Farooqui said that Pakistan had welcomed the resumption of their talks. She hoped the talks will be concluded at the earliest leading to infra Afghan negotiations. Regarding US Special envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalizad’s visit to Pakistan, she said there were tentative dates for the visit for last week, which did not transpire.

To a question, she said an Afghan delegation was visiting Islamabad on the invitation of a Think Tank to participate in a seminar in Islamabad. “I understand they held some official meetings as well,” she remarked.

This week, Afghan leaders who gathered here for a roundtable conference urged the US not to strike a peace deal with the Taliban only.

The participants including Member Parliament and Head of Hizb-e-Wahdat Mardam-e-Afghan Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq, HWMA delegation, former ambassador Mohammed Sadiq, former ambassador Arif Durrani, Analyst A Z Hilali, Dr Salma Malik, Dr Azmat Hayat, and others, believed the peace process should be ‘plural’ not ‘singular.’ The roundtable was organised by the Lahore Centre for Peace Research under the ‘Lahore Process’ for peace.

The conference participants acknowledged that Pakistan had been contributing as a facilitator for the peace of Afghanistan. There was a consensus that the war needed to end and intra-Afghan dialogue was the key for Afghanistan long-lasting peace.

Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq pointed out that peace was the greatest desire of today’s Afghanistan. “For a long lasting peace structural changes are required and the emphasis must be given on domestic concerns for a broad-based political solution to the Afghanistan,” he said.

Aisha Farooqui pointed out Pakistan was an important country in the region and it has historic relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

She said that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi - during his meetings in Iran and Saudi Arabia - put forward Pakistan’s point of view that “war is in nobody’s interest and that we are partner for peace.”

Aisha Farooqui said prior to visiting the US, the Foreign Minister undertook intensive outreach in the Middle East under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s direction as part of Pakistan’s effort towards peace and stability in the region. “Pakistan will continue to play its role for reduction of tension and peace and stability in the region,” she added.

The spokesperson said the second briefing to the UN Security Council on the situation in occupied Kashmir in five months constituted success of Pakistan to highlight the plight of oppressed Kashmiri people. 

She said this briefing reaffirmed that Kashmir was an internationally recognized dispute which is on the agenda of the Security Council for seven decades. “Today, at the request of Pakistan, and with the support of China, the Security Council considered the situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.

She added: “We have addressed several letters informing the Security Council of the serious threat to international peace and security posed by India’s unilateral measures of 5th August in occupied Kashmir, its continuing violations of human rights there, and its belligerent posture and actions against Pakistan.”

In view of the seriousness of the situation and the risk of further escalation, she said, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative was instructed to request the Security Council to give immediate consideration to the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir. “China echoed our request,” she said.

Aisha Farooqui said there were more than 10000 Pakistanis jailed abroad. “Pakistan’s embassies and consulates, all over the world, are very mindful of our nationals who are imprisoned on various charges, according to local laws.

Around half the number are convicted on criminal charges that range from an entire gamut of criminal activities including violations of immigration law,” she said.

Asked about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s to visit Davos to attend World Economic Forum, the spokesperson said: “The visit of the Prime Minister to Davos is on the cards.”