US withdrawal from Afghanistan will help further peace process, says Qureshi | Pakistan Today

US withdrawal from Afghanistan will help further peace process, says Qureshi

–Qureshi says Pakistan has also released some Afghan Taliban prisoners to make ‘conducive environment’ for peace talks

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s decision regarding the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reiterated Pakistan’s desire for peace in the region.

Talking to journalists, the foreign minister said the decision [of US troops withdrawal] will help further the ongoing peace talks being held in UAE between the Afghan Taliban and the US.

The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan working either with a NATO mission to support Afghan forces or in separate counter-terrorism operations.

The Wall Street Journal reported that more than 7,000 troops would be returning from Afghanistan.

Qureshi said Pakistan has also released some [Afghan Taliban] prisoners so that “an enabling environment” conducive to the talks can be created.

He asserted that Pakistan will continue to play whatever role it can play to support the Afghan peace process.

Regarding the worsening of the situation in occupied Kashmir, the foreign minister said Pakistan had raised the issue with the United Nations about the use of excessive force by Indian troops and the violation of human rights in the occupied region.

“Two days ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to the UN secretary general and urged him to play his role and investigate the matter,” said Qureshi.

There was a growing sense of alienation among the people [of Kashmir] and things were not getting any easier, he added.

“If achieving success was possible with the use of force, it would have been attained by now. But the use of force [by India] is only worsening the situation in occupied Kashmir,” he maintained.

The foreign minister dismissed the idea that talks were underway to secure the release of Dr Shakeel Afridi in exchange for Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

When asked to express his views regarding the fact that Nawaz Sharif might celebrate his birthday in jail, following the Supreme Court verdict due on Monday, Qureshi said: “I am of the view that there is a legal process through which they [the Sharifs] have presented their stance. They were given complete chance [to defend themselves] in the Supreme Court, before the JIT, and then the accountability court. Furthermore, their lawyers appeared before the court, submitted all documentation, and arguments were presented.”

“Now the decision has been reserved. The judge is unbiased, the judiciary is impartial, the accountability process was conducted in a free and fair environment. All we have to do now is wait. Our opinion cannot sway the decision this way or that,” the minister concluded.

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