FOREIGN Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi greets Afghan politician and Hezb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar before their meeting at the Foreign Office on Monday.—White Star
FOREIGN Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi greets Afghan politician and Hezb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar before their meeting at the Foreign Office on Monday.—White Star

• Discusses peace process with Hekmatyar
• UN official asked to work for dignified return of refugees

ISLAMABAD: Stressing the importance of an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday urged all parties to honour their respective commitments and work for reduction in violence leading to a ceasefire. He was talking to an Afghan delegation headed by Hezb-i-Islami chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, which called on him here.

“The Afghan leaders must seize this historic opportunity to achieve durable and sustainable peace in Afghanistan,” he remarked.

The foreign minister underlined the importance of exercising vigilance and guarding against the role of ‘spoilers’, both within and outside.

Mr Qureshi underscored historic ties and brotherhood between Pakistan and Afghanistan and reaffirmed Islamabad’s desire to strengthen these relations.

He emphasised that Pakistan had always supported a peaceful, stable, united, democratic, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan had consistently stressed that there was no military solution to the Afghanistan conflict.

Mr Qureshi said Pakistan facilitated the process that culminated in the US-Taliban Peace Agreement in Doha on Feb 29, and supported the commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations.

The foreign minister highlighted the steps taken by Pakistan to support Afghanistan on its path to reconstruction and economic development as well as for improved transit and bilateral trade relations.

Mr Hekmatyar is on a three-day visit to Pakistan. During the visit, the Afghan leader will meet political and parliamentary leadership and other dignitaries.

UN official calls on minister

Meanwhile, the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Deborah Lyons, called on Mr Qureshi.

During the meeting, the foreign minister appreciated UNAMA’s role in supporting Afghanistan’s socioeconomic development as per its mandate.

The minister highlighted Pakistan’s facilitative role in the Afghan peace process, which he said had been acknowledged by the international community.

He said Pakistan was keen to see the Afghan peace process move forward as it would help reduce violence and deny space to ‘spoilers’ who did not wish to see return of peace and stability in the region.

Mr Qureshi reiterated that the vision of economic prosperity and regional connectivity could not be realised without a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

The foreign minister highlighted the range of steps taken by Pakistan to support Afghanistan in transit trade and movement of people, despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment for safe and dignified return of Afghan refugees to their homeland, the foreign minister urged UNAMA to play an active role in helping with time-bound and well-resourced refugees’ return and their sustainable reintegration in the Afghan society.

The foreign minister assured Ms Lyons of Pakistan’s support to UNAMA in promoting the shared objective of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2020

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