ISLAMABAD: Against the backdrop of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and the war-like situation there, Pakistan and Iran have vowed to facilitate an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political settlement in the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday telephoned president-elect of Iran Seyed Ebrahim Raisi and in their discussion they “emphasised the need to continue facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive political settlement,” said an official press release issued by the Prime Minister Office (PMO).

PM Khan thanked Iran for its steadfast support for the just cause of Jammu and Kashmir. Expressing concern over serious human rights situation in India-held Kashmir and Palestine, the two leaders emphasised the need to resolve these long-standing disputes in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

Imran calls Raisi, discusses Kashmir, Palestine issues with him

PM Khan has recently said that Pakistan will not become a partner of the US in any conflict in the region and that it was “very unfair” of the US and Western powers to “put pressure” on countries like Pakistan to choose sides and downgrade their relationship with China.

During telephonic conversation, the prime minister congratulated Mr Raisi on his victory in the presidential elections held on June 18, 2021, which was a manifestation of the Iranian people’s trust in his leadership.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the upward trajectory of bilateral relations and agreed on further boosting existing cooperation, particularly in its economic dimension.

It was affirmed that the establishment of border sustenance markets along the Pakistan-Iran border was an important step, which would yield economic and social benefits for the people of both countries.

In the regional context, PM Khan expressed concern over the worsening security situation in Afghanistan and cautioned that the latest developments could lead to serious repercussions for both Pakistan and Iran, resulting in an influx of refugees towards the bordering areas of the two countries.

In his wide-ranging speech during the budget session in the National Assembly on June 30, the prime minister warned that a “very tough time” was coming for Pakistan in view of the situation in Afghanistan. He had said he was thankful that the US had recognised there was no military solution to the conflict in the neighbouring country but it should have done so earlier.

“Afghanistan has never accepted interference from outside. If we were proactive and a self-respecting government stood up and said [the US] is wrong, then we would have protected them (Afghans),” he had said.

The prime minister strongly underscored the imperative of a negotiated political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

It was agreed to maintain high-level exchanges, with both leaders extending invitations to each other to pay official visits.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2021

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