Pakistan fully backs Afghan peace process, says FM

-Assures Afghanistan of Pakistan’s complete support
-Highlights the importance of Intra-Afghan peace talks
-Says Int’l community backs political process, Kabul should avail this opportunity
-| States ‘Security, stability is what we need & our security, stability is interlinked’
-Argues ‘We have no favourites & do not want to meddle in Afghanistan’s internal affairs

By Our Diplomatic

Islamabad: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday assured Afghanistan of Pakistan’s complete support for the Afghan peace process, stating that Islamabad wanted to be “friends not masters” and highlighted that the commencement of intra-Afghan dialogues is very important for establishing peace in Afghanistan.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while addressing a conference at Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS), said that the ongoing visit of Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, to Pakistan possesses great importance. He said that the international community is backing the political process in Afghanistan and Kabul leadership should take advantage of the opportunity. The foreign minister reiterated that he is admitting the fact that Afghan conflict will be resolved through dialogues.
Qureshi said that all sides should remain vigilant about the elements trying to affect the ongoing peace process. It is inevitable for regional prosperity to continue peace process in Afghanistan, he added.
He continued that peace in Afghanistan will also ensure peace in Pakistan and the decision for the future of the neighbouring country will be made its nation. He clarified that no one could impose their decision on Afghan nation.
The foreign minister said “Security and stability is what we need and our security and stability is interlinked. I want to give a clear message: We have no favourites [and] do not want to meddle in your internal affairs. We respect and want to respect your sovereignty, your independence and your territorial integrity.
“My message [to the people of Afghanistan] is that whatever consensus evolves through your dialogue and negotiations, we will accept it […] that is the way it ought to be.”
Quoting the name of the book by former president Ayub Khan, FM Qureshi said that it was important for Pakistan to be “friends not masters” of Afghanistan.
“That’s the paradigm shift and the new realisation and recognition if we have to coexist in peace and build a common future,” he said, concluding his address by assuring the Afghan leader and the high-level delegation comprising prominent members of the council of Pakistan’s complete support.
During his speech, the foreign minister reiterated that a political settlement was the only solution for the solving the Afghan conflict.
“A realisation has evolved over the years that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. Today there is recognition that a negotiated political settlement is perhaps the only and the best way forward.”
Warning of “spoilers”, he added that an overwhelming majority of Afghans want peace. “There will always be spoilers […] but the overwhelming majority feels that this is the right way forward and that is a positive development. We feel, and I believe, that only Afghans can decide the future of Afghanistan.
“Sustainable peace can only come from within Afghanistan, it can’t be imposed.”
The foreign minister also emphasised the need for greater collaboration between the two countries in different fields in order to build a common future.
He said that peace was essential for promoting trade and investment between the two countries. “The moment we have cooperated, we have benefitted. [Therefore] a relationship of cooperation and understanding is the only way forward.
“I realise that the road ahead will be bumpy and it won’t be easy. And let’s not fool ourselves, it won’t be handed to us on a platter. One will have to work for it,” he said.
‘Pakistan played vital role in facilitating peace process’
In his address, the Afghan leader highlighted that Pakistan had played a vital role in facilitating the Afghan peace process. He added that both the countries have paid a heavy price by facing terror groups that are still acting as “spoilers”.
According to Radio Pakistan, Abdullah stated that Afghanistan would not allow any terror entity to pose a threat to any other nation.
He also recognised the start of negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban as an important opportunity, saying that it offered the “best hope to put the war behind us”.
He said they had asked the negotiating team to be patient and ready to make compromises, the report added.
The Afghan leader highlighted that Pakistan and Afghanistan face common threats and challenges, including terrorism, extremism, intolerance and, more recently, Covid-19. Abdullah said that there was untapped potential for cooperation between the two countries.
He also thanked Pakistan for hosting million of Afghan refugees, adding that Kabul shared Islamabad’s view regarding their dignified return.
Earlier on Monday morning, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, had arrived in Islamabad on Monday morning on a three-day visit.
He is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including prominent members of the High Council for National Reconciliation. This is Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s first visit to Pakistan in his capacity as Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation.
The visit will provide an opportunity for wide-ranging exchange of views on the Afghan peace process and strengthening of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and people-to-people interaction. The visit of Dr Abdullah Abdullah will contribute to further strengthening amity, brotherhood and close cooperation between the two countries.