ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday re-emphasised the need for reduction of violence in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has repeatedly underscored the importance of reduction in violence leading to a ceasefire,” FO spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said at the weekly media briefing.

Pakistan had on Thursday attended a meeting of the ‘extended troika’ on the Afghan Peace Process in Moscow.

The extended troika, which included US, Russia, China, and Pakistan, in its communique expressed support for the efforts for accelerating peace negotiations and called for reduction in violence and creation of an environment conducive to reaching a negotiated political settlement.

The meeting was also attended by 10-member delegations each from Afghan government and the Taliban.

At his briefing, Mr Chaudhri said “Pakistan believes that without peace our shared dream of connectivity, economic development and prosperity of our people and people of Afghanistan and the region will not be materialised”.

“Pakistan believes an exclusive approach towards negotiations and governance will significantly help the cause of sustainable peace in Afghanistan,” he added and called on the international community to remain engaged with Afghanistan and help the county at this critical juncture.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a telephone call with his Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar, reiterated Pakistan’s consistent support to the Afghan peace process.

He said Pakistan was ready to facilitate all efforts for a negotiated political settlement. He further asked for exercising vigilance against the role of “spoilers”.

Mr Qureshi urged Afghan parties to work constructively for the shared objective of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. He underscored the need to remain cognisant of the challenges and impediments on the way, which could be overcome through patience, perseverance and persistence.

In New York, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of a senior diplomat, Jean Arnault, as his personal representative to assist with the Afghan peace talks.

The United Nations also attended the Moscow meeting.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2021

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