ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday again urged Afghan warring sides to reduce violence so that the peace process could progress.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while talking to the visiting leader of Hezb-i-Wahdat-i-Islami, Afghanistan, Ustad Karim Khalili, asked “all sides” for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire.
“The Afghan leadership should seize this historic opportunity to establish lasting peace in Afghanistan through intra-Afghan negotiations,” the foreign minister emphasised.
The call followed the start of the second round of negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators in Doha to settle the priority arrangement of the agenda items they intend to discuss in their parleys.
Visiting Hazara leader from Afghanistan meets PM, army chief
Reduction of violence is Kabul’s key priority, but the Taliban are not ready to discuss it unless some understanding on future political arrangement is reached. The Taliban fear that agreeing to reduction of violence can make them lose their main leverage in the dialogue.
However, Pakistan, which has facilitated the peace process over the past couple of years, starting with the US-Taliban talks, has regularly urged all sides to agree to reduction of violence.
Prime Minister Imran Khan too, in a separate meeting with Mr Khalili, said that he had in all his recent interactions with Afghan leaders underlined that Pakistan’s message to all sides was to work together for a peaceful solution.
Mr Qureshi, in his conversation with Mr Khalili in the meeting at Foreign Office, cautioned against the role of ‘spoilers’ both within and outside Afghanistan.
Mr Khalili is visiting Pakistan on the invitation of Pakistan government as part of Islamabad’s efforts to reach out to major Afghan figures.
Mr Khalili is the leader of Hazara community in Afghanistan. His trip is also significant because the Hazara community has historically had problems with Taliban and has concerns about its safety in case of a settlement of the conflict.
FM Qureshi told Mr Khalili that Pakistan supported “an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive” political solution of the 19-year-old conflict.
Pakistan, he said, would continue to facilitate the Afghan peace process.
He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to strengthening bilateral relations with Afghanistan in all fields and recalled the various steps taken by Islamabad to strengthen bilateral and transit trade and introduction of revised visa policy to facilitate Afghan nationals.
Mr Khalili was, meanwhile, assured by Prime Minister Khan of continued support for human resource development through scholarships and socio-economic development projects in Afghanistan.
Mr Khalili later visited GHQ for a meeting with Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“Matters of mutual interest, peace and stability in the region, connectivity and current developments in Afghan Peace Process were discussed during the meeting,” the Inter-Services Public Relations, said.
Gen Bajwa told Mr Khalili that peace in Afghanistan meant peace in Pakistan and that a stable and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbours was in Pakistan’s national interest.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2021