Return of peace in Afghanistan to benefit region and beyond, says PM Imran

Published February 18, 2021
This combination file photo shows Ahmad Wali Massoud (L) and Prime Minister Imran Khan (R). — DawnNewsTV/Twitter
This combination file photo shows Ahmad Wali Massoud (L) and Prime Minister Imran Khan (R). — DawnNewsTV/Twitter

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday met Ahmad Wali Massoud, the head of Afghanistan's Massoud Foundation and a former ambassador of the country to the United Kingdom, and discussed with him the Afghan peace process and the fraternal relations between the two countries.

In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said that Massoud was "warmly welcomed" by the premier. During the meeting, the premier said a solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and a return to peace would have "lasting benefits for the region and beyond, through economic development, regional trade, and improved connectivity".

The premier reiterated that the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan lay in a negotiated political settlement rather than military actions.

He emphasised that Pakistan was "the most desirous" to see peace in its neighbouring country after the Afghans themselves as it was also affected by the ongoing conflict.

Prime Minister Imran recalled that Pakistan had "extended full support" to facilitate the agreement between the United States and the Taliban and later, the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.

The premier "stressed that the intra-Afghan negotiations provided a historic opportunity which must be seized by the Afghan leadership to achieve an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement", the PMO quoted him as saying.

"Pakistan has been emphasising to all sides to work together constructively, take steps for reduction of violence leading to a ceasefire, and secure a political solution for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan."

Moving on to relations between the two countries, Prime Minister Imran referred to the government's "liberal visa programme" and the facilitation of bilateral and transit trade, which he said would further strengthen ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Pakistan’s assistance for Afghanistan’s development efforts and human resource capacity-building will continue apace," he added.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Imran also recalled the contributions of Massoud's late father, Ahmed Shah Massoud — the charismatic, French-speaking mujahedeen commander who held the Soviets at bay and was Afghanistan’s last bulwark against the Taliban.

According to the PMO, the visit by Massoud and his delegation was in "continuation of Pakistan’s policy to reach out to Afghan leaders to further strengthen bilateral ties and enhance mutual convergence on the Afghan peace process".

Last month, Afghan High Peace Council Chairman and leader of the Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami (Afghan Unity Party), Mohammad Karim Khalili, had visited Pakistan and met the prime minister and army chief to discuss bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process.

Officials from the Afghan government and Taliban delegations have visited Pakistan during the last year and held several meetings with the premier and foreign minister among other officials. Prime Minister Imran too visited Kabul in November, saying in a press conference during his visit that Pakistan will do everything possible to help reduce violence in Afghanistan and establish durable peace.

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