ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday said that Pakistan would continue to back efforts for regional peace and stability.
He extended this assurance to United States Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad who is visiting Pakistan along with Gen Austin Scott Miller, US Commander Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan.
Ambassador Khalilzad’s latest visit is taking place at a time when the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban’s negotiation teams announced a 20-day break in their dialogue for ‘consultations’ on the agenda items.
The talks are tentatively scheduled to resume from Jan 5, 2021. It is not clear where the next round of talks will be held though the Afghan government has indicated the desire for hosting them inside Afghanistan.
The two sides are currently negotiating the agenda for the intra-Afghan dialogue after reaching an agreement on Dec 2 on the rules and procedures governing the future talks.
The break and the accompanying uncertainty are a cause of worry for the US.
Amb Khalilzad, after his arrival in Islamabad, tweeted: “Tragically, the war continues. The need for a political settlement, reduction in violence, and a ceasefire remain urgent.”
“Given how much is at stake, it is imperative that there is no delays in resumption of talks and they must resume on Jan 5 as agreed,” he said in another tweet.
Pakistan this year not only helped the US and Taliban sign their agreement, but also facilitated the start of intra-Afghan negotiations and more lately the agreement on rules and procedures for the dialogue.
Prime Minister Imran Khan during his last month visit to Kabul had assured the Afghan leadership of his full cooperation for reduction in violence in Afghanistan. He had assured President Ashraf Ghani “we will do whatever is within our reach”.
According to Pakistan military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations, matters of mutual interest including overall regional security situation with particular reference to ongoing Afghan reconciliation process were discussed during the meeting at GHQ between Gen Bajwa and the US delegation.
“COAS appreciated role of RSM for peace and stability in Afghanistan and assured that Pakistan will continue to play its positive role for peace and stability in the region,” the ISPR said.
“Visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s untiring efforts for facilitating the process towards the mutual objective of peace in the region,” it added.
Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2020