ISLAMABAD: United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday emphasised on better ties between Islamabad and Kabul to achieve regional peace.
The US diplomat made the comments at an interactive session during the Refugees Summit in Islamabad co-sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Pakistan to mark 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees in the country.
Expressing his hope of a successful Afghan peace process, Khalilzad said reconciliation and modern thinking will pave way for the war-torn country.
“Afghanistan has been faced conflict for 40 years – dangerous one that continues to this day,” he reflected. He said the US was looking towards reducing violence, negotiations with the Afghan Taliban and internal reconciliation.
Khalilzad underscored moving away from “blame game”, adding that the situation at hand offered both challenges and opportunities. He said the peace talks between US and Afghan Taliban will pave way for reconciliation in the country.
The US representative stressed over improved ties between Islamabad and Kabul to ensure peace in the region. He pushed for better economic and trade ties between the two neighbours.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan cooperation will pave way for enhanced regional economic and trade.”
The United States and the Afghan Taliban are on the cusp of signing a peace deal, with observers expressing optimism that the development would not only end the over 18-year-long conflict but also lead to stability in the war-ravaged country.
The imminent peace deal was the result of a 14-month long painstaking negotiation process — brokered and facilitated by Pakistan — between the US and the Taliban.
Ahead of the formal signing of the agreement — possibly on February 29 — the Afghan Taliban would observe a seven-day ceasefire in a move that aims at gauging the authority the Taliban representatives holding talks with the US wields on battlefield commanders as well as to create an enabling environment for an intra-Afghan dialogue.
In September, the two sides were almost close to signing a deal but President Donald Trump called off talks at the last minute, citing the Taliban’s continued attacks targeting the American forces.
But the real reason for Trump’s U-turn was the criticism he faced from within his administration that the proposed deal was nothing but a document of surrender since the Taliban were not ready to agree on a ceasefire.
But a few weeks later, US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad resumed talks with the Taliban. He met a Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Islamabad in October last year.
Using the occasion Khalilzad pushed for a ceasefire by the Taliban before any deal could be signed.