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Afghanistan takes road to rapprochement with Pakistan

Abdullah in a meeting with Pakistani foreign minister lauded Islamabad for efforts in Afghan reconciliation process; Qureshi said Pakistan backs a durable political solution to Afghan conflict

AT News

KABUL: Afghanistan’s point man for peace Dr. Abdullah Abdullah held fresh talks with Pakistan’s foreign minister on Monday ahead of his planned meetings with senior civil and military officials, seeking Islamabad’s help in the ongoing Afghan reconciliation process.

Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Dr Abdullah Abdullah in his meeting on Monday with Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi lauded the Pakistani leadership for its efforts to take the Afghan peace process to its logical conclusion. He thanked Pakistani for its efforts in Afghan reconciliation process.

Abdullah’s trip comes amidst an extraordinary turmoil of applause in Pakistan. Roads have been decorated with plethora of flowers and banners bearing Abdullah’s pictures with warm welcomes. Afghan government is also pinning high hopes on these meetings with Pakistani leadership as Islamabad has recently supported the Afghan peace talks.

In his meeting with Abdullah, Qureshi said Pakistan supported a peaceful and durable political solution of Afghanistan’s conflict through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. The foreign minister said the US-Taliban agreement and later the intra-Afghan dialogue held in Doha had raised the prospects of long-lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Qureshi said Pakistan had been playing the role of a facilitator in the process “as a shared responsibility”. “Whatever we can do to facilitate we have done and will do it,” he said, stressing that saboteurs who do not want peace and stability in the region should be kept at bay. About development after peace, he said the international community will have to come forward for the reconstruction and economic stability of Afghanistan.

“Afghan peace process is of paramount importance for both Pakistan and Afghanistan and its success ensures socio-economic prosperity for all,” Foreign Minister Qureshi said in a tweet. “Dr. Abdullah’s visit will open a new chapter in bilateral ties, further strengthen relations and forge a common understanding on the Afghan peace process,” he said.

“Pakistan respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Afghanistan and wants to develop strong economic cooperation with the neighbouring country,” he said.

Qureshi said Pakistan has “always maintained there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict and encouraged all parties to reach a political solution through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process,” it said.

Earlier in the day, Abdullah had arrived in Islamabad on a three-day official visit. This is the Afghan leader’s first visit to Pakistan in his capacity as chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. He is accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising prominent members of the council. Abdullah and his delegation will meet Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, Daudzai said.

Mohammad Umer Daudzai, President Ghani’s Special Envoy for Pakistan, is accompanying Abdullah on the trip. He said the visit will yield results as the situation has changed in recent years. Daudzai said “Pakistan is showing that they are serious about cooperation with the Afghan peace process.”

This could potentially open a new chapter in perennially volatile relationships between Kabul and Islamabad which have long engaged in a tug of war and a blame game over origins of insurgency. Afghanistan holds a firm belief Pakistan’s inter-service intelligence has been feting terrorist groups.

Previously, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in an op-ed published in the Washington Post said that peace is within reach in Afghanistan, but a hasty withdrawal of foreign forces will be unwise. “We have arrived at a rare moment of hope for Afghanistan and for our region. On Sept. 12, delegations from the Afghan government and the Taliban finally sat down in Doha, Qatar, to begin negotiations toward a political settlement that would bring the war in Afghanistan to an end,” read the op-ed.

“We also learned that peace and political stability in Afghanistan could not be imposed from the outside through the use of force. Only an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process, which recognizes Afghanistan’s political realities and diversity, could produce a lasting peace,” wrote Imran Khan.

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