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Pakistan favours intra-Afghan agreement to end Afghan conflict

10 November, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan favours an intra-Afghan agreement to the end the Afghan conflict, a senior Pakistani diplomat told representatives of regional countries, the United States and Taliban political envoys in Russia.

The head of the Taliban delegation, Sher Abbas Stanekzai, in his address laid out the demand for the US forces to immediately leave Afghanistan, according to a delegate.

A three-member Pakistani delegation was led by Additional Secretary at the Foreign Office, Muhammed Aejaz, who said at the conference, “an intra-Afghan agreement on ending the conflict and initiating meaningful reconciliation can lay the foundation for a peace process to take shape, around which regional and international guarantees and support could ultimately coalesce to form a long-term sustainable solution.”

Representatives from 11 countries, including the US, attended the Moscow-format consultations that were held at a time when representatives of the Taliban and the US have held two meetings in Qatar over the past four months.

Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador, has embarked on a visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar with an interagency delegation from November 8-20, the US State Department says.

He will meet with Afghan government officials and other interested parties to advance the goal of an intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations that include the Taliban and lead to a sustainable peace. A sustainable peace requires that all Afghans have a say in their country’s future, said the statement, posted online.

Aejaz said Pakistan believes that there is no military solution available and only a political solution, fully cognizant of and responsive to the hard core socio-cultural, political and economic realities of Afghanistan, can restore peace in the country.

“We must admit that it remains a difficult goal to achieve because it demands flexibility from all sides, especially on the hardened positions and stances, and a willingness to negotiate without pre-conditions, so that new ideas and peace efforts could find greater space to emerge and steer the Afghan peace process,” he went on to say.

Head of the High Peace Council Haji Din Muhammad shook hands with leader of the Afghan Taliban Qatar office Abbas Stanekzai during the meeting.

The HPC delegation told the Taliban representatives that it is ready for peace talks.

“We discussed the subject of direct talks with the Taliban and asked them to choose the place and the starting time,” said Ehsan Tahiri, High Peace Council spokesman, according to Russia’s RIA news agency.

The text of Aejaz’s address to the conference released by the Foreign Office shows that he argued that time has come for all stakeholders to directly and clearly engage among one another to understand each other’s positions and concerns for making such discussions purposeful.

He said Pakistan’s desire to see complete peace and stability in Afghanistan emanates from a number of factors including its unique geographic position and border with Afghanistan; “The heavy price we have paid due to unabated conflict in the country for 40 years; the resultant security concerns and a realisation that peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan is critical for Pakistan’s own stability and progress.”

He reminded the delegates that Pakistan has also kept urging all stakeholders over the years to work together for creating favorable conditions for a result-oriented peace process, as no single country has the ability to help in breaking the existing stalemate in Afghanistan.

“Such an approach is also necessary to cater the concerns and individual perspectives of immediate neighbors of Afghanistan, who have been most affected by the conflict. This is important for long-term sustainability of a solution agreed by the Afghans among themselves,” he insisted.

He reiterating Pakistan’s stated position that providing an enabling environment for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan remains a shared responsibility, adding Pakistan remains ready to wholeheartedly play its part in making this collective strategy a success.

The Russian foreign ministry said earlier that invitations to attend the event had been sent to participating countries – Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the United States.

President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai had made a decision to send a delegation of the Afghanistan High Peace Council, which is mandated to hold peace negotiations with the Taliban.

For the first time, a delegation of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, took part in an event of this kind.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and special Representative of the Russian President on Afghanistan Amb. Zamir Kabulov also joined the delegates.

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