- The Afghan Taliban delegation meets Shah Mahmood Qureshi, will also meet PM Imran Khan.
- Mullah Baradar and his team’s last visit to Pakistan was in August to discuss the Afghan peace process.
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that the responsibility for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan cannot be shouldered by the Taliban alone.
Addressing a press conference following a meeting with an Afghan Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the foreign minister said that peace talks have now begun but the reduction in violence that was expected is so far not being witnessed.
“But this responsibility cannot be placed on the shoulders of the Taliban alone. All sides will have to play a role,” he stressed.
He said that there are many reasons for the violence and the delegation presented their viewpoint on the matter.
Qureshi said Pakistan wants a reduction in violence and wants it to proceed towards a ceasefire. “For a stable Afghanistan a comprehensive and inclusive settlement is required,” he added.
He said that the international community will have to play their role if they wish to see a peaceful Afghanistan. “They will have to continue their role in the reconstruction and economic development and this will make possible the return of Afghan refugees.”
Qureshi said the next round of talks between the US and Afghan Taliban for peace in Afghanistan will commence on January 5.
He said that the venue is yet to be decided and both sides have indicated their preferences.
The foreign minister said that in the discussions held today, Pakistan once more presented its view that there is no military solution for continued peace in Afghan.
“A negotiated political settlement is the only way forward for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan,” he said.
He said Pakistan presented its view point to the Baradar-led delegation which also included their main negotiator Sheikh Hakeem.
“One thing that was clear (in our discussions) was that in the past 40 years’ events brought a lot of damage to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the entire region,” Qureshi said.
“This is a historic opportunity to redress that damage and must not be wasted,” he added.
The foreign minister said that the delegation were grateful to Pakistan for the country’s positive role in taking this matter forward and for taking care of Afghan refugees.
He said that they acknowledge that for this war to continue is not in their favour and not in the favour of Afghanistan.
“From their discussions, I could sense seriousness towards achieving peace,” Qureshi said.
Delegation to also meet PM Imran Khan
A delegation of the Taliban Political Commission (TPC), headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrived in Islamabad today on a three-day trip, announced the Foreign Office.
The FO statement said that the Baradar and his delegation will be in Pakistan from December 16-18, and are scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“The visit of Taliban Political Commission delegation is part of Pakistan’s policy to reach out to key Afghan parties in the Afghan peace process with a view to facilitating the Intra-Afghan Negotiations, that commenced in Doha on 12 September 2020,” said the FO.
The FO maintained that Pakistan will keep supporting an “inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement for durable peace, stability, and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region”.
Last time Baradar and his team had visited Pakistan was in August to discuss the Afghan peace process.
‘Significant milestone in peace process reached’
The visit comes days after US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad announced that the Afghanistan peace process has reached a “significant milestone”, with the two sides agreeing on the rules and procedures for a comprehensive ceasefire and political roadmap.
Khalilzad had said on Twitter that the two sides had recognised a three-page agreement that codifies rules and procedures for negotiations on a political roadmap and a “comprehensive ceasefire”.
In this regard, Pakistan had welcomed the announcement of the agreement, saying it reflected “a common resolve of parties to secure a negotiated settlement”.
“It is an [important] development contributing towards a successful outcome of Intra-Afghan Negotiations,” a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.
Afghans ‘must be the masters of their destiny’
Pakistan has been instrumental in persuading the Afghanistan government and the Taliban to discuss options for peace. The move by Islamabad aims to put an end to the conflict that has been raging for the past 19 years in Afghanistan now.
However, Islamabad has time and again warned the world against spoilers in the peace process, saying that New Delhi was against peace and stability in the war-torn country.