ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghan Taliban on Thursday agreed on the need for earliest resumption of the Afghan peace process.
The understanding came at a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and a delegation of the Taliban Political Commission (TPC) from Doha led by its head Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Islamabad. The delegation included senior members of the TPC.
The foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s commitment and continued strong support for all efforts regarding the peace process.
It was emphasized that reduction of violence by all parties to the conflict was necessary to provide an enabling environment for resumption of the peace process at an early date.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi noted that while the people of both Afghanistan and Pakistan had a shared history, geography and culture, Islam remained the strongest bond between the two brotherly countries.
He added that the people of both the countries had also suffered tremendously due to 40 years long conflict and instability in Afghanistan. It was time to make all possible efforts for an early, peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan, he maintained.
Qureshi said that Pakistan would continue to support all efforts to achieve permanent peace in Afghanistan which was essential for Pakistan’s own socio-economic development and progress. He added that Pakistan had wholeheartedly supported Afghanistan in its difficult times during the past four decades.
In line with the teachings of Islam and as part of its moral obligation as a friendly neighbour, Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan brothers and sisters during this period. All these years Pakistan has also kept reminding the world not to overlook the hardcore political, economic, socio-cultural and ethnic ground realities in Afghanistan and its immediate neighborhood.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Pakistan had maintained for several years that there is no military solution to the complex situation in Afghanistan. An inclusive peace and reconciliation process, involving all sections of the Afghan society, was the only, practical way forward.
The FM further noted that the direct Taliban-US talks since last year, strongly and sincerely supported by Pakistan, had now laid a firm ground for achieving a sustainable peace deal in Afghanistan. “A pacific settlement of the conflict would lead to a significant reduction of violence, end of bloodshed and long-term peace, stability and prosperity for future generations of Afghanistan,” he added.
While appreciating Taliban’s serious engagement in the peace process, he underscored the need to take these efforts to their logical conclusion. He noted that the existing, broad regional and international consensus for achieving peace in Afghanistan at the earliest provided an unprecedented opportunity that must not be lost. It was up to the parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to grasp this opportunity, he said.
FM Qureshi expressed the hope that the currently paused peace process would be restarted at an early date.
Thanking Pakistan for the hospitality, the Taliban delegation appreciated Pakistan’s support for peace in Afghanistan.