Giving impetus to Afghan peace process

Giving impetus to Afghan peace process

Pakistan is making persistent efforts for achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan through a political settlement. Leader of Hezb-i Islami Gubadin Hekmatyar is currently on a three day visit of Islamabad. He has met with Foreign Minister Shah Memmood Qureshi, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani and is meeting President with Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan. In meeting with Hezb-i- Islami leader Foreign reiterated Pakistan’s support for the return of peace and stability to war torn Afghanistan. He emphasised that stability of the entire region is linked with the restoration of peace in Afghanistan. The visit of Gulbadin Hikmatyar is of immense importance as it took place after the visit of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation.

The Hezb-i-Islami leader appreciated the friendly relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan at the government-to-government- level and people-to-people contact. He underscored the need for strengthening bilateral relations through enhanced economic cooperation and parliamentary ties.

The current ruling leadership has maintained neutrality vis-vis all stakeholders of Afghan conflict with the immense desire to facilitate a broad based political settlement among all the political groups, while pursuing a proactive Afghan diplomacy. Islamabad hosted Afghanistan peace conference in Bhurban, Murree on 22nd June, 2019. It was participated by 50 opposition leaders, including Gulbadin Hekmatyar and other stalwarts. Likewise, political leadership of the Taliban was invited and six member Taliban Political Commission led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar visited Islamabad on 2nd October, 2019 which held talks with the Foreign Minister and high official of Foreign office. It paved the way for historic Doha agreement between the US and the Taliban in February this year.

Pakistan on its part, particularly under the present leadership, has performed a positive and supportive diplomatic role for bringing Afghan political groups to the negotiation table. After the agreement, the early holding of Intra-Afghan dialogue was emphasised over and over. In his address via video link to the opening round on the occasion of Doha peace talks, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s commitment towards a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and appreciated the efforts that have been made for starting the intra-Afghan peace talks and wished that it will produce a positive outcome to bring durable peace to the war torn country. He cautioned against repeating the mistakes made in the past, a reference to fratricidal war between the Mujahideen groups after the withdrawal of Soviet troops under Geneva Accord of 1989 and subsequent fall of President Najeebullah government in Kabul. The foreign Minister said that a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan will bring new opportunities and open numerous vistas for cooperation and connectivity in the region and beyond. He urged the international community to lend support to Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process, while respecting the consensus that emerges from intra-Afghan negotiations.

The talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban have raised the expectation of clinching an inclusive political settlement, acceptable to all Afghan political groups. However, the spoilers of peace process are also active to derail it. With regards to the spoilers of Afghan peace process, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad during telephonic interaction with journalists on intra-Afghan negotiation had said, “Daesh has been responsible for quite a lot of violence in Afghanistan as it does not want peace process go forward.” This sort of point of view, labeling Daesh Khorasan alone as spoiler, is vague as leaders of countries that have common borders with Afghanistan and Russia do not subscribe to this simple accusative theory. In his opening remarks at Afghanistan Peace Conference held in Moscow on November 9, 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had emphasised the threat posed by Daesh in Afghanistan, which relies on foreign sponsors in a bid to “turn Afghanistan into a springboard for its expansion in central Asia.” Let us hope that the s and sitting government in Kabul, the Taliban and other opposition political groups realise the magnitude of threat posed by spoilers and their sponsors. The cessation of hostilities between the sitting government of Afghanistan and the Taliban is inevitable.

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