Pakistan to go the extra mile for Afghan peace | Pakistan Today

Pakistan to go the extra mile for Afghan peace

–FM Qureshi says Pakistan will facilitate US-Taliban talks ‘to all extents’ as Chinese FM urges Taliban to avail opportunity

–Afghan FM says Pakistan needs to take practical measures for peace

KABUL/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, China and Afghanistan on Saturday signed an agreement to curb terrorism, as Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi assured both countries that Pakistan would facilitate the peace talks between Afghan Taliban and the United States–scheduled to be held on Monday– to all extents.

In a joint press conference with his Chinese and Afghan counterparts at the end of the 2nd trilateral ministerial dialogue, FM Qureshi reiterated Islamabad’s stance that cooperation between the three countries was vital for a “prosperous, stable and peaceful future of the region”.

Qureshi said that Pakistan always supported a political solution to the conflict and this dialogue too was a part of that process as it would “pave way for a solution to the Afghan crisis through political means”.

“Since the beginning [of the Afghan conflict], Pakistan has advocated for dialogue instead of military action to achieve peace. Today the world is agreeing with our stance,” the foreign minister said during the meeting, adding that as a neighbour, Pakistan had “suffered most due to the Afghan situation”.

The dialogue also expressed resolve to combat terrorism in the region and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard.

“Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” Qureshi stated adding, as he urged for the exchange of intelligence information and better border management between the two countries.

“We will do everything to support the growing momentum towards reconciliation provided others play their due role and share responsibility and create an enabling environment towards that end,” he said.

The dialogue, comprising three different sessions, discussed trade and technical support to war-torn Afghanistan.  Qureshi said mega projects, like the construction of a motorway connecting Peshawar and Kabul and a railway network between Quetta and Kandahar, can strengthen trade relations between the three countries.

He also promised to open two hospitals in Kabul as a “gift” to Afghan people.

‘PAKISTAN, AFGHANISTAN ARE FRIENDS OF CHINA’:

FM Wang Yi said told reporters that China supported an Afghan-owned peace process and urged the Afghan Taliban to take advantage of the offer.

Wang said that China is determined to make the Afghan reconciliation process successful. “We will play our role to reduce the trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said, adding Beijing wanted to “strengthen relations” with Afghanistan and include it into mega project CPEC.

He said cooperation between Pakistan, Afghanistan and China was vital for a “prosperous, stable and peaceful future of the region” and Beijing would extend every possible cooperation to build trust and confidence between the two countries.

“China will also assist in establishing connectivity projects including a rail line between Peshawar-Kabul and Kandahar,” the Chinese FM said, adding China would assist both countries in the provision of clean drinking water and building infrastructure.

‘AFGHANISTAN WANTS STRONG RELATIONS WITH PAKISTAN’:

On the occasion, Afghan FM Salahuddin Rabbani said the Afghan government desired to strengthen relations with Pakistan, he, however, insisted Pakistan needed to take practical measures in this regard.

He expressed concern over deteriorating relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying: “Pakistan has always said that it supports Afghanistan. [But] it is time that practical steps are taken in this regard.”  He lauded the Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative as well.”

After the trilateral ministerial dialogue session, Qureshi held a separate meeting with his Afghan counterpart where both officials discussed matters of mutual interest. Rabbani also thanked Qureshi for taking part in the joint peace effort.

DIALOGUE:

The one-day long dialogue was divided into three phases,  with focussed on security while two sessions pertained to the political settlement of the Afghan conflict and regional cooperation.

“In the first phase, the political situation in Afghanistan and the dialogue process with the Taliban will be discussed, while in the second phase regional cooperation will be the focus. Lastly, the third phase will revolve around the security cooperation,” the reports said.

Pakistan, China and Afghanistan had initiated a trilateral ministerial to address the regional challenges and increase cooperation among the countries.

Following the first such dialogue in Beijing last year, Pakistan and Afghanistan had managed to the establishment of a bilateral framework ‘Afghanistan-Pakis­tan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS)’ for steering the relations. However, the progress in ties had hit a snag after recent terror incident in Afghanistan, especially the killing of Kandahar police chief Gen Raziq.

The trilateral talks came at a time when Afghan Taliban had shown willingness to sit at talks table with the US for peaceful settlement of the decades-long conflict.

In an address in Peshawar on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan had arranged direct talks between the United States and Afghan Taliban on December 17, asserting only dialogue was the solution.

“The same US that had been asking us to ‘do more’ is now asking Pakistan to facilitate its talks with the Afghan Taliban,” PM Imran had said while addressing a ceremony to mark the 100-day ceremony of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.



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