ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday re-emphasised Pakistan’s commitment to Afghan peace process.
He was talking to US Centcom Commander Gen Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., who called on him at the General Headquarters.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted Gen Bajwa as having told Gen McKenzie that “Pakistan is committed to efforts for peace in Afghanistan as it is important for peace in Pakistan”.
“Matters of mutual interest and regional security situation with particular reference to ongoing Afghanistan reconciliation process were discussed during the meeting,” said the ISPR.
Gen McKenzie has been appreciative of Pakistan’s role for peace in Afghanistan. Speaking at the Middle East Institute on Feb 8, he had said: “They’ve helped us in some ways.” He had, however on that occasion, added: “We sometimes wish they would do more.”
The Centcom commander believes that Pakistan, because of its location, has a key role in Afghanistan. “Geography gives you certain facts you have to deal with. And Pakistan is certainly one of those facts we’re going to have to deal with,” he had said at the Middle East Institute.
Centcom commander, Russian president’s envoy hold meetings with army chief
The ISPR said both commanders agreed on the need for a political resolution of the Afghan conflict.
“Visiting dignitaries acknowledged Pakistan’s commendable efforts in the fight against terrorism and ensuring regional stability,” the statement added.
Centcom, meanwhile, said in a statement that closer coordination in a multilateral approach to regional maritime security, especially in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman, was also discussed.
“We are committed to exploring new areas for collaboration in order to maintain security, stability and prosperity within the region,” Gen McKenzie said.
Meanwhile, Russian President’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov called on Army Chief Gen Bajwa at the General Headquarters, according to the ISPR. “During the meeting matters of mutual interest, regional security situation particularly developments in Afghan peace process were discussed,” it added.
Gen Bajwa said that peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan was in the greater interest of the region.
Mr Kabulov, the ISPR said, praised the role being played by Pakistan for Afghan peace process.
Pakistan on Friday expressed support for Russian efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
“The foreign minister underlined the importance of regional consultations and appreciated the role of Four Party Talks in support of the Afghan peace process,” the Foreign Office said after Mr Kabulov’s meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Mr Kabulov was on a day-long trip to Islamabad. His trip took place amidst reports that Moscow is planning to convene a meeting involving China, Pakistan, Iran and the United States to deliberate on how to give a fresh impetus to intra-Afghan negotiations that have made little headway since their start last September.
The talks in Doha are currently stalled because of the uncertainty created by the Biden administration’s announcement that it was reviewing the agreement made with Taliban in February last year.
Russian foreign ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova, at a briefing in Moscow on Thursday, while emphasising the need for substantive intra-Afghan talks, regretted that the dialogue had been bogged down in discussions on technical issues instead of taking up bigger items like the future state system of governance in the country and sustainable ceasefire.
Moscow is also offering to host the intra-Afghan talks in the future.
Mr Qureshi, during the meeting with Mr Kabulov, noted the convergence of Pakistani and Russian positions on the reconciliation process.
The Russian special envoy, according to Sputnik News Agency, recently condemned the US for violating the agreement with Taliban and asserted that the insurgent group was “flawlessly” adhering to it as no American soldier has been killed since last February when the accord was signed.
Ahmed Wali Massoud
The head of Afghanistan’s Massoud Foundation, Ahmed Wali Massoud, who is visiting Pakistan, met Foreign Minister Qureshi and discussed the Afghan peace process and Pak-Afghan relations.
Mr Qureshi said that Pakistan had no favourites in Afghanistan and its message to all sides was to work together constructively for peace and stability.
He appreciated the role of Massoud Foundation in social sectors and noted that it could play an important part in promoting civil society and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.
Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2021