Pakistan welcomes announcement of signing of US-Taliban deal

February 21, 2020

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Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan

Pakistan welcomes the announcement regarding the signing of a possible deal between the United States and Afghan Taliban, the Foreign Office said on Friday.

It said Islamabad "look[s] forward to the signing of the agreement", which Afghan officials have said could be finalised on February 29.

The statement comes after officials earlier in the day said a week-long "reduction in violence" between the Taliban, the US, and Afghan security forces is slated to commence over the weekend.

If the partial truce goes ahead, it would mark a historic step in more than 18 years of gruelling conflict in Afghanistan and would pave the way for a deal that could, ultimately, see the war end.

Read: Week-long Afghanistan 'reduction in violence' to start on Saturday

"Pakistan has consistently supported direct negotiations between the US and Taliban. From the outset, Pakistan has facilitated this process and contributed to its progress thus far," read the FO statement.

"We believe the signing of the US-Taliban agreement will pave the way for the next step of intra-Afghan negotiations," it added, saying Pakistan hopes Afghan parties will now "seize this historic opportunity" and work out a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

"Pakistan reaffirms its support for a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, at peace with itself and with its neighbours."

The statement said Pakistan is also looking forward to the international community playing its part in reinforcing the efforts for the establishment of sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

Islamabad wants to see the international community help "create conditions inside Afghanistan to enable the return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan to their homeland with dignity and honour", it concluded.

The US has been in talks with the Taliban for more than a year to secure a deal in which it would pull out thousands of troops in return for Taliban security guarantees and commitments.

A reduction in violence would show the Taliban can control their forces and demonstrate good faith ahead of any signing, which would see the Pentagon withdraw about half of the 12,000-13,000 troops currently in Afghanistan.

The US and the Taliban have been tantalisingly close to a deal before, only to see President Donald Trump nix it in September of last year at the 11th hour amid continued insurgent violence.

Any truce comes fraught with danger, and analysts warn the attempt to stem Afghanistan's bloodshed is laced with complications and could fail at any time.

Or, worse still, they say warring parties could exploit a lull to reconfigure their forces and secure a battlefield advantage.