ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran Wednesday vowed to step up coordinated efforts for an Afghan-led negotiated settlement of war-torn Afghanistan, agreeing that a regional solution to the conflict was of utmost significance, and there was a dire need for mounting a joint effort against the rising threat of terrorist forces like the Islamic State—also known as Daesh, ISIL, ISIS.
The agreement was made during the first round of informal consultations between the two brotherly nations here at director-general-level talks of the ministries of foreign affairs on regional situation, especially the efforts of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
In the consultations, Pakistani delegation was led by Director-General (Afghanistan) Mansoor Ahmad Khan of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the Iranian side was led by Director-General Rasoul Eslami of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who visited Islamabad for the consultations.
“The two DGs reaffirmed commitment and support of Pakistan and Iran to the efforts of Afghanistan and the international community for achieving lasting peace, stability and progress in the country, which is important for regional stability. Underlining that there was no military solution to the prolonged Afghan conflict, they emphasised the need for a credible political process owned and led by Afghanistan for an internal settlement,” an official statement issued here said.
Pakistani delegation stated that it attaches importance to engagement with Afghanistan in political, security, economic and people-to-people interaction to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
An official privy to the details of the meeting, requesting anonymity, told Pakistan Today that the consultations focused on a peaceful solution to Afghanistan.
“Both the sides agreed in principle that rather than a military solution, a regional solution is a real answer to the Afghan war. Both the countries agreed that not only the Afghan war was badly affecting people of Afghanistan, the immediate and remote neighbours were also affected due to the war,” the source said.
“Since Iran and Pakistan are the worst-affected countries due to the Afghan war, it was decided that both must launch efforts to bring Afghan government and Taliban on the table. But being the principal parties to the conflict, the two sides agreed that Afghan government needs to take initiative and engage the warring faction. Pakistan and Iran would assist any such initiative,” the official added.
The official said that whether Afghan government prefers a bilateral dialogue or opts for other processes—like QCG (Quadrilateral Coordination Group) or Moscow Process—both Pakistan and Iran would facilitate them eagerly.
“However, regional consensus on the Afghan peace process would be pivotal since regional countries are suffering due to the war industry, illicit drug business, and terrorism through global terrorist organisations like IS; therefore, a regional approach may work,” the source added.
The two sides also agreed that terrorism was a threat for the entire region.
“Recognising that terrorism was a major threat to global and regional peace, the two sides discussed that threats such as increasing terrorism and violence in Afghanistan, rising drug production and trafficking and expanding foothold of IS posed a considerable challenge for Afghanistan and its neighbourhood.
“They emphasised the need for concerted efforts and cooperation among all the states in counter-terrorism, border management and combating production and trafficking of narcotics. The two sides also underscored the importance of dignified return and resettlement of refugees in Afghanistan,” the statement added.
The official said that Iran welcomed Pakistan’s initiative of border management alongside Iran keeping in view the terrorism incidents along Pakistan, Iran border.
“Iran welcomed the raising of IG FC’s new Southern Command which is dedicated to monitoring Pakistan, Iran bordering areas. They said it would largely help settle the cross-border terrorism,” the official said.
The source also said that Iranian delegation also raised the issue of recovery of Iran border security official who had been kidnapped at the Pak-Iran border.
“Yes, the matter was raised by Iranian delegation. They claimed that the Iranian abductee was being kept somewhere alongside bordering areas. We asked them to share with us actionable intelligence, and we would take an action accordingly,” the official added.
The ways for deepening regional economic cooperation and enhancing connectivity between the countries of the region were also discussed as well as collaboration in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Chabahar Port.
“This was the first round of bilateral consultations with Iran on regional peace and security with a focus on the situation in Afghanistan. The two sides agreed to continue these informal consultations as part of their strong commitment to peace, stability and progress in Afghanistan and the region,” the statement concluded.