UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has expressed the hope that the US-Taliban talks, which were abruptly suspended over the weekend, would soon resume and open the way towards intra-Afghan negotiations that would lead to a peaceful settlement of the long-drawn conflict in Afghanistan.
“We hope that the suspension of peace talks is only a pause and will resume sooner rather than later as the alternative is a surge in violence, which could push Afghanistan into an even more turbulent and uncertain phase than has been witnessed so far,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UN Security Council, while assuring of Pakistan’s role as a facilitator of the Afghan peace process.
Participating in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan, she said Pakistan had always condemned violence and called for all sides to exercise restraint and to remain committed to the peace process out of its belief that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.
The Pakistani envoy said that nine rounds of direct talks between the United States and the Taliban had brightened prospects to put in place the first significant foundation of a settlement, raising hope that the parties appeared closer to that goal than at any other time in the past 18 years.
Envoy tells UNSC Islamabad remains committed to safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation of refugees
In her speech, Ambassador Lodhi said the recent setback should not dampen hopes. “We urge both sides to re-engage, and look forward to an early resumption of talks,” she added. “Apart from Afghanistan itself, there is no country that has suffered more than Pakistan from the four decades of war and foreign interventions in Afghanistan.”
Pakistan, she pointed out, had provided significant assistance to Afghanistan in development aid in the education, health, reconstruction and infrastructure development sectors, giving details of the specific projects to the 15-member council.
“Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for four decades, opening our homes and hearts to our brothers and sisters. We remain committed to their safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation,” she added.
Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2019