Pakistan reaffirms support to political settlement in Afghanistan

Kabul urges Islamabad to 'influence' Taliban for ceasefire

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to facilitate all efforts for a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan, underlining the importance of exercising vigilance against the role of “spoilers.”

Qureshi said this in a telephonic conversation with his Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar on Friday. Views were exchanged on matters of mutual interest, including Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and the latest status of Afghan peace process during the phone call.

Reiterating Pakistan’s consistent support to the Afghan peace process, the foreign minister underlined that the intra-Afghan negotiations provided a historic opportunity to achieve an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan.

The foreign minister urged Afghan parties to work constructively for the shared objective of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. He underscored the need to remain cognizant of the challenges and impediments on the way, which could be overcome through patience, perseverance and persistence.

In the bilateral context, the foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to forge closer cooperation with Afghanistan in all fields. He underlined the importance of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APAPPS) as a vital platform to carry forward the bilateral cooperation on key tracks.

The foreign minister also emphasised the need for early conclusion of talks relating to the APTTA.

The two foreign ministers exchanged greetings and good wishes on the eve of Nowruz.

Foreign Minister Qureshi extended an invitation to Foreign Minister Atmar to visit Pakistan at the earliest convenience.

In a related development, Afghan President’s Special Envoy for Pakistan Affairs Mohammed Umer Daudzai has said that Kabul wants Islamabad to play the same role in facilitating an agreement between the government of Asfhraf Ghani and the Taliban as it did in the Doha pact which was possible due to Pakistan’s cooperation.

“The agreement between the Taliban and the US, there was serious Pakistan cooperation in it and the US thanked Pakistan. Now we, as their brothers and sisters, expect Pakistan to do the same between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban,” he said.

About the role of government in Islamabad, Daudzai said that Afghanistan has its expectations from Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban, to consistently come to a negotiation table and also to follow the negotiation on a result base.

“The other thing we expect [from Pakistan] is to again use influence over Taliban to agree to a ceasefire,” the Afghan envoy said.

This peace effort, he said, is different from the earlier efforts as the animosity between the Taliban and the US are over. “The Taliban used to claim that Afghanistan is occupied by the US and as long as it continues we will fight. Now they have signed an agreement in February last year in Doha which means their problem is over, they have overcome their problem but now they have continued to fight against the Afghanistan government forces.”

He said that since 2018, a framework has been developed, specifying areas of cooperation. “The first one is state-to-state friendship and cooperation. The second is Pakistan’s cooperation in the peace process, third is the trade and transit, the fourth one is counter-terrorism and the fifth one is refugee return.”

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