Pakistan cautions Afghan Taliban against spoilers

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan yesterday urged the Afghan Taliban to implement the peace accord reached with the United States to move forward and ensure stability.

A Taliban Political Commission delegation, headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, held talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi here to discuss the current status of the Afghan peace process and the way forward.

Commenting on the meeting, FM Qureshi said both the sides have agreed that stability in the region will benefit all the countries.

“We have discussed the issue of peace in Afghanistan and we agreed to work for stability. The Afghan peace agreement needs implementation,” he said in a brief media interaction.

The Foreign Minister also cautioned against ‘spoilers’ who did not wish to see return of peace in the region. For its part, the Foreign Minister stressed, Pakistan will continue to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for durable peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.  

Foreign Minister Qureshi also highlighted the importance of Pak-Afghan ties based on amity, shared history and geography and reaffirmed Pakistan’s abiding solidarity with the brotherly people of Afghanistan. 

No military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, political settlement is the only way forward

He urged the international community to enhance its engagement for reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan. The Foreign Minister also underscored the need for creating economic opportunities and an environment conducive for return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour, a foreign ministry statement said.

At the Islamabad meeting, Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored Prime Minister Imran Khan’s consistent stance that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that a political settlement was the only way forward.

Highlighting Pakistan’s positive contribution to the peace and reconciliation process, culminating in the US-Taliban peace agreement in Doha on February 29 this year, he underlined that this historic opportunity must be seized by the Afghan stakeholders to secure an inclusive and broad-based negotiated political solution.

Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. He emphasized the implementation of the US-Taliban peace agreement, in its entirety, paving the way for the earliest possible commencement of the Intra-Afghan negotiations.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the statement said, thanked the Foreign Minister for the invitation and affirmed support for efforts for peace, security and development in Afghanistan. The delegation also thanked the government and people of Pakistan for their consistent support to the people of Afghanistan, including for graciously hosting Afghan refugees for over four decades.

A Taliban Political Commission delegation led by Mullah Baradar had also visited Pakistan in October 2019 for wide-ranging consultations on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.

The Kabul government and the Taliban are deadlocked over the outstanding prisoner releases. Kabul insists the Taliban to free 22 Afghan commandos they hold captive while the Taliban demand the release of a final 320 Taliban prisoners held in Afghan jails.

The release of the remaining prisoners was approved by a traditional Afghan council, or Loya Jirga, called by President Ashraf Ghani earlier this month. The council approved the immediate release of the prisoners but later the government announced the Taliban were still holding Afghan soldiers and halted the process.

Just before the talks were in Islamabad, a Taliban-claimed suicide attack killed at least three people in northern Afghanistan. The suicide bomber detonated explosives in a truck near an Afghan army base in the Afghan province of Balkh.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that the attack was revenge for a video circulating online that appeared to show Afghan troops desecrating the bodies of Taliban soldiers in the south.

The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation into the video, which surfaced earlier this month.

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