ISLAMABAD: United States Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called on Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday as efforts for revival of peace negotiations between the US and Taliban gained momentum.
Amb Khalilzad, who is here for the second time in a month, is also expected to meet senior civil and military officials to discuss the latest developments related to the peace talks.
The prime minister told the visiting diplomat that as a sincere facilitator and a friend, Pakistan remained ready to do everything possible in its capacity, as part of a shared responsibility, for early conclusion of the peace deal between the US and Taliban.
He reiterated Pakistan’s steadfast and sincere support to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process and underlined the need to overcome the difficulties so that an enduring political solution to the Afghan conflict could be achieved at the earliest.
He stressed that it was important for all sides to take practical steps for reduction of violence in Afghanistan. He further underscored that it was equally important to guard against the negative narratives and efforts by any quarter to undermine the progress made so far through painstaking efforts.
“Achieving sustainable peace and security and ensuring long-term development, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region is in Pakistan’s best national interest,” the PM told Amb Khalilzad.
During his last trip at the start of the month, Amb Khalilzad had held secret talks with a delegation from Taliban’s Qatar-based political office on the resumption of their negotiations that broke down in September following an attack in Kabul in which an American soldier was killed.
The two sides were close to signing an agreement when President Trump through a tweet announced an end to all contacts with Taliban and cancelled a previously unannounced meeting with President Ashraf Ghani and Taliban leaders.
The US special envoy, before reaching Islamabad on the latest visit, toured Kabul where he briefed President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other Afghan leaders on recent activities for revival of the negotiations.
He earlier last week attended quadrilateral talks with diplomats from Pakistan, China, and Russia in Moscow. One of the key objectives of the Moscow meeting was to review the stalemate in the peace process since US-Taliban dialogue broke down.
The communiqué issued from Moscow said: “Russia, China and Pakistan expressed their support for the earliest resumption of the negotiation process and reaching an agreement between the United States of America and the Taliban movement, which will pave the way for launching intra-Afghan talks.”
The four countries at their Moscow meeting further “urged all sides to immediately reduce violence” to create “an environment conducive for negotiations”.
Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2019