ISLAMABAD   -   Pakistan has urged the groups in Afghanistan to end violence for the implementation of the peace process.

Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chauhdri said Prime Minister Imran Khan had already highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process.

“The PM has stressed that peace in Afghanistan was of paramount importance for the region and Pakistan. Violence should end for smooth sailing of the peace process,” he maintained.

The call came amid violence in Afghanistan that left several dead. Last month, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman High Council for National Reconciliation flew to capitals of Pakistan, meeting leaders there to seek support for the peace talks with the Taliban. Afghanistan not only shares its longest border with Pakistan but also share deep-rooted cultural, historic and trade ties with its eastern neighbours.

Pakistan last month softened its visa regime for Afghanistan, which also included on arrival visas for patients at the border as part of efforts to mend the dented ties.

In Islamabad, Abdullah tried to strike a chord by emphasizing that both countries need to go beyond the usual rhetoric and shadowy conspiracy theories.

“We cannot afford to pursue business as usual. We need fresh approaches and our people demand it from us. It is more urgent than ever to look to our region as one region”, Abdullah said while addressing a conference in Islamabad. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan assured him “support whatever the Afghans agree upon about the future of Afghanistan”.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq said he had spoken to US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and discussed with him “further facilitation” of intra-Afghan negotiations.

The US and Pakistani special envoys have spoken at a time when the Taliban and an Afghan government negotiation team have yet to agree on rules for conducting the negotiations.

Both sides had opened negotiations in Doha, Qatar, on September 12 to decide Afghanistan’s political future, but the process is very slow.

Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan government negotiation team, and the Taliban political spokesman Mohammad Naeem, said on twitter that contact groups of the government and the Taliban held a meeting Monday evening and held detailed discussions on the contested issues. Both sides agreed to continue meetings to reach a resolution.

The slow pace of the talks has raised concerns of the major stakeholders at a time when there is a spike in violence in Afghanistan.

Sadiq tweeted that he held a virtual conference with Khalilzad on “further facilitation of Intra-Afghan Negotiations, ways international community could support the process and regional connectivity to make Pakistan and Afghanistan hub of inter-regional trade.”

Khalilzad visited Pakistan on Thursday, October 8, and held talks with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on the peace process.

The Taliban and the United States signed an agreement in Qatar on February 29 on the withdrawal of all US and NATO forces and to end the war in Afghanistan. 

Zahif Hafeez Chaudhri Pakistan had always maintained that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always urged all stakeholders to pursue an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

“Pakistan has been pursuing the policy to reach out to all stakeholders with a view to facilitate the Afghan peace process. The Intra-Afghan Negotiations have provided a historic opportunity for Afghan leadership to establish long-lasting peace, and it is now upto the Afghans to seize this unprecedented opportunity,” he added.

He said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi participated in a virtual Ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement recently hosted by the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan.