Pakistan desires ceasefire in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Wednesday reaffirmed support for a peaceful, stable, united, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan as an Afghan Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi here.

The delegation of Taliban Political Commission is on an official visit to Pakistan for exchange of views on the Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan supports inclusive and comprehensive political settlement for durable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region. To this end, happy to welcome delegation of Taliban Political Commission led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in line with our policy to facilitate Intra-Afghan negotiations,” Qureshi tweeted after the meeting.

The Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s belief that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, said a separate foreign ministry statement. 

He underlined that Pakistan will continue to facilitate the Afghan peace process and expressed the hope that the Afghan parties would seize this historic opportunity to establish lasting peace in Afghanistan through an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

Welcoming the announcement of the agreement on rules and procedures between the two negotiating sides in Doha, FM Qureshi conveyed that the agreement reflects a common resolve of the parties to secure a negotiated solution. He emphasized the importance of measures by all sides for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire.

He added that Pakistan will respect the decisions taken by the Afghan parties through the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

The Foreign Minister also underlined the need for guarding against the machinations of “spoilers” from disrupting the process.

The Foreign Minister highlighted the steps being taken by Pakistan to deepen the economic relations and people-to-people exchanges including visa facilitation and enhancing trade and transit for the welfare of fraternal Afghan people.

Emphasizing Pakistan’s commitment to safe and dignified return of Afghan refugees to their homeland, the Foreign Minister expressed the hope that peace and stability in Afghanistan will help create conducive conditions for a time-bound and well-resourced roadmap supported by international community.

He also stressed the importance of the international community playing its role in reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan.

The delegation thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for more than four decades. The Taliban Political Commission’s delegation appreciated Pakistan’s facilitative role in the Afghan peace process and shared its perspective on various aspects of the Intra-Afghan negotiations, said the statement.

The Taliban Political Commission delegation is visiting Pakistan from December 16-18 as part of Pakistan’s efforts of outreach to all Afghan stakeholders for a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict. The TPC delegation last visited Pakistan in August 2020.

 

Earlier, top US civil and military officials held a crucial meeting with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss the resumption of peace process in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan-US bilateral ties.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation and General Austin Scott Miller, top US military officer in Afghanistan, visited the Pakistan Army headquarters on December 14 to discuss matters of mutual interest, Afghanistan reconciliation process and overall regional security situation.

Pakistan’s military delegation led by General Bajwa also included Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid and other senior defence officials.

The visit came in the backdrop of the resumption of peace talks in Afghanistan after a three-week break by both the Afghan government and the Taliban.

General Bajwa praised the role of the Nato-led Resolute Support Mission for peace and stability in Afghanistan and assured the US officials that “Pakistan will continue to play its positive role for peace and stability in the region.”

The visiting dignitary appreciated “Pakistan’s untiring efforts for facilitating the process towards the mutual objective of peace in the region” an official statement said.

Under the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in February 2020, the number of American troops in Afghanistan has reduced to 4,500 and all the remaining foreign soldiers are expected to leave the country by May 2021.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had visited Afghanistan last month, where he vowed to “do everything” to help curb violence and push for a ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan forces.

PM Khan’s first visit to Kabul as Prime Minister came as violence escalates in the war-torn nation, threatening peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban that began in Doha in September.

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