–FM says bringing Taliban to talks table was tough job, a fact acknowledged by US and world
–Says there’s no military solution to conflict, urges Afghans to ‘shun partisan domestic politics to ensure lasting peace’
ISLAMABAD: Taking credit for the imminent peace deal between the United States and Afghan Taliban, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday said Islamabad was “closely involved in the process that led to the announcement of the peace deal between the two parties”.
The remarks by the foreign minister came amid the start of week-long ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government and report of the potential signing of the deal on Feb 29.
In a statement released by the Foreign Office, the minister termed the deal a “historic breakthrough” and added there was no military solution to the Afghanistan conflict.
He said: “When US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad visited Islamabad recently, both the prime minister and I held detailed meetings with him regarding the peace process. We constructed a roadmap to peace.”
“I also told Khalilzad that the US and its allies around the region must remain wary of certain elements who benefit from continued fighting [in Afghanistan]. I warned him that these elements are bent on destroying the progress of our peace efforts,” Qureshi said.
In a statement released by the Foreign Office, Qureshi pointed out that the Afghan peace process was a complex one and that there was no military solution to the conflict. “The world must understand that the solution to Afghan conflict will only come through a political settlement based on diplomatic negotiations,” the foreign minister said.
He also noted in his statement that when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came to Pakistan for his maiden visit last year, relations between the two countries were at its lowest ebb.
“Pompeo told me that the pathway to fixing relations between Pakistan and the US came through Kabul. Now I would like to remind him that we have fulfilled all our promises. Not only did we build a peace team but we also played our role in ensuring that the negotiations were successful,” said Qureshi.
The foreign minister said that the Afghan government should think about the future of its country and double its efforts to restore peace. Qureshi also urged the Afghan government to shun partisan domestic politics to ensure lasting peace in the country.
“The deal will be signed in the presence of Pakistan because it was impossible for the deal to come through without our efforts. After February, we will try to build a delegation to promote intra-Afghan peace process and we have also decided when and how those talks will take place. Pakistan has played its role in the peace process with wholeheartedness and honesty and it is now incumbent upon the Afghan government to do the same,” Qureshi said.
FM Qureshi added it was not easy to bring the Taliban to the table for negotiations, “Which is why the entire world, including the US, is appreciating Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process.”
Speaking about the abrupt ending of the peace talks by US President Donald Trump last year, he said Pakistan convinced the US to restart the dialogue.
The US and Taliban are on the verge of the signing of a peace deal to end the 17-year-long bloodshed.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that upon successful implementation of this agreement, the US would move to sign a peace deal with the Taliban on February 29. Soon after Pompeo’s announcement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the development and said both sides will invite senior representatives to take part in the peace deal “signing ceremony”.
The Taliban’s statement also said the signing of the peace deal would be followed by intra-Afghan talks with various political parties in the country.
The Afghan armed group, which was removed from power in a US-led invasion in 2001, has previously refused to speak directly to the Kabul government, which it denounces as a “US puppet”.