ISLAMABAD: The United States on Monday emphasised the need for “tangible steps” for supporting the Afghan peace process.
The call was made at the end of US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s visit to Islamabad during which he met Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa.
The special envoy’s day-long visit, which was part of his trip to the region, took place in the backdrop of talks between Afghan political leaders and Taliban in Doha in which the two sides agreed to accelerate the ongoing peace dialogue.
Both US and Pakistan welcomed the meeting in Doha as a positive development. Mr Khalilzad, soon after his departure, tweeted: “More must be done, urgently.”
Zalmay holds talks with PM, army chief
Meanwhile, the US embassy in its statement said: “Ambassador Khalilzad emphasised the urgency of a comprehensive political settlement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban, one that leads to a sustainable peace and preserves Afghanistan’s security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”
“Tangible and material support for the Afghanistan peace process is vital for its ultimate success, as are positive long-term relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” it added.
The prime minister’s office said PM Imran Khan’s discussion with Zalmay Khalilzad centred on the prevailing situation in Afghanistan and the need for expediting the Afghan peace process.
Mr Khan reaffirmed his government’s resolve to remain closely engaged with the US and other countries for peace in Afghanistan.
He also emphasised the need for all Afghan sides to show flexibility and engage meaningfully with each other.
Mr Khan said that escalation of conflict and instability in Afghanistan was not in Pakistan’s interest as it would lead to serious challenges for Pakistan in areas of security and influx of refugees. Durable peace in Afghanistan, he said, would conversely open avenues for regional economic connectivity.
Reiterating Pakistan’s opposition to takeover of Afghanistan by force, the prime minister said such an action would not lead to the resolution of the conflict. Only a negotiated settlement will bring lasting peace and stability to Afghanistan, he emphasised.
Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2021