ISLAMABAD: Leader of Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar talking to President Dr Arif Alvi at Aiwan-i-Sadr. –APP
ISLAMABAD: Leader of Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar talking to President Dr Arif Alvi at Aiwan-i-Sadr. –APP

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday said Pakistan would continue to support the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in the neighbouring country.

He was talking to Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who called on him here at the Aiwan-i-Sadr. The Afghan dignitary also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser a day after meeting Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad.

Welcoming the visiting dignitary, President Alvi said Pakistan and Afghanistan shared a similar history, culture and religion, and the two brotherly countries must further strengthen bilateral cooperation for the mutual benefit of their people.

He said Pakistan would continue to stand by the Afghan nation in difficult times, and contribute to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, according to a press release issued by the President’s Media Office.

Hekmatyar calls on President and PM, appreciates Islamabad’s efforts for Afghan peace

President Alvi underscored the need for peace and stability in Afghanistan, which would benefit not only Afghanistan and Pakistan but also the entire region. He expressed the hope that the intra-Afghan negotiations following the peace agreement between the Taliban and the United States would help bring stability to Afghanistan.

However, he warned the Afghan leader of the spoilers who were bent upon derailing the peace process once again. The Afghan leadership must save the peace-process from being harmed and seize the historic opportunity to establish lasting peace in their country, he added.

He said the international community had acknowledged Pakistan’s positive contribution to promotion of peace in Afghanistan.

Mr Hekmatyar lauded Pakistan’s efforts for promotion of peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan, particularly the assistance extended to the Afghan refugees, opening of the border for transit and bilateral trade during the Covid-19 pandemic and the revised visa policy for the Afghan nationals also came under discussion.

Meanwhile, the visiting Afghan dignitary called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and appreciated his positive role in facilitating the Afghan peace process.

The Afghan leader, who arrived here along with a delegation and also met Pakistan’s foreign minister on Monday, thanked Islamabad for its longstanding contribution to the socio-economic development of his country and for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for more than four decades.

Welcoming the dignitary, the prime minister underscored the historic bonds of friendship and brotherhood between Islamabad and Kabul.

Mr Khan highlighted the importance Pakistan attached to the fraternal Afghan people and reaffirmed the country’s resolve to foster closer cooperation with Afghanistan, said a press release issued by the PM Media Office.

Mentioning that Pakistan has the highest stake in peace and stability in the region, PM Khan expressed best wishes for successful outcome of the Afghan peace process. He reiterated his longstanding position that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process was the only way forward.

The prime minister noted that intra-Afghan negotiations provided a historic opportunity to the Afghan leadership to establish lasting peace in their country. He expressed the hope that the Afghan parties would work to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

However, he warned against the damaging role that spoilers could play within and outside Afghanistan. Besides undermining peace and stability, this could also undermine the peace dividend to be accrued in terms of progress and prosperity of the Afghan people, he underlined.

Referring to the enormous potential in bilateral trade, transit and connectivity between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr Khan reaffirmed his government’s full support for Afghanistan on the path of reconstruction and economic development and dignified return of Afghan refugees. He further said Pakistan would continue to facilitate people-to-people exchanges, promote Afghan investments and enhance programmes for human resource development and capacity building of Afghans, especially in the sectors of health and education.

FO statement

Meanwhile, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri expressed the hope that the Hezb-i-Islami leader’s visit to Pakistan would further help [in peace process] and open a new chapter in the relationship between two countries.

“Pakistan has always supported a peaceful, stable, united, democratic, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan,” he said while speaking to Radio Pakistan’s current affairs programme.

He said Mr Hekmatyar’s visit was significant and came at a time when the Afghan peace negotiation process was at a critical stage. He said Pakistan had always supported an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process. Pakis­tan had been telling the world that there was no military solution to the prevailing Afghan crisis, he said.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2020