UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has urged all warring sides in Afghanistan to agree on de-escalation of violence in a bid to create an atmosphere for peace negotiations, emphasising that there is no military solution to the conflict.

“For many years, Imran Khan, Pakistan’s recently elected prime minister, has declared that peace in Afghanistan can be restored only through a negotiated political settlement between the principal parties,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told the UN Security Council on Monday.

Taking part in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan, she referred to the prime minister’s first address to the nation in which he had reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to peace, stability and prosperity in that country.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s first visit abroad after the assumption of power by the new government was to Afghanistan, she said, adding that cooperation between the two countries was a vital component of the endeavour to realise peace and security within Afghanistan and the entire region.

Ambassador Lodhi said that Pakistan welcomed the Trump administration’s acknowledgement that a negotiated political settlement was the best option to bring America’s longest war to an end. This, she emphasised, was the course of action that Pakistan had urged for over a decade, as well as by the UN and the international community.

“Pakistan will actively encourage, support and facilitate all efforts to launch a credible peace process,” she told the 15-member council.

“Apart from Afghanistan, no country has suffered more from the four decades of war, turmoil and foreign interventions in Afghanistan, and no country has more to gain from peace there, than Pakistan.” At the same time, Ambassador Lodhi said unless the parties directly involved in the Afghan conflict display flexibility, serious negotiations for a political settlement could be delayed.

Noting some signs of a negotiated end to Afghan war, the Pakistani envoy said the Eidul Fitr ceasefire affirmed that peace was possible if the principal parties in Afghanistan desired it.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018

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