ISLAMABAD : The UN top envoy to Afghanistan has lauded the role of Pakistan in setting the stage for the peace process for Afghanistan. Briefing the UN Security Council, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons welcomed the prospect of intra-Afghan talks, saying it is a historic moment.
She called for a humanitarian ceasefire in the country as the negotiating teams of Afghanistan and the Taliban prepare to sit in Doha for talks. Lyons highlighted urgent issues related to peace, human rights, and the humanitarian situation, as well as other pressing issues, stating that a humanitarian ceasefire was crucial to ensure that relief efforts can be conducted. “I want to emphasize again the importance of the humanitarian ceasefire. This is a win-win for both parties to the peace talks and it is clearly a win for the Afghan people. We all need to be raising our voices to focus on the need for a humanitarian ceasefire,” said Lyons. She explained that a humanitarian ceasefire is not permanent but intended to allow civilian populations caught in the fighting to receive care. She reiterated that holding the intra-Afghan negotiations is imperative. “As I speak, Afghans representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are preparing to sit with other Afghans representing the Taliban to discuss, at long last, a political settlement to the conflict. This is truly a historic moment,” said Lyons. “The coming days will hopefully bring the formal launch of intra-Afghan negotiations.” She stated that solutions will not be found on the battlefield and Afghans need to talk to each other. She said the level of violence on the battlefield remains deeply worrying. On peace spoilers, she said: “The last few weeks have seen near-record numbers of security incidents, including egregious attacks by spoilers targeting civilians involved in the peace process.” The UN envoy added that the conflict continues to kill and injure hundreds of Afghans every week. Despite significant progress in the last two decades, Afghanistan remains one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, and one of the worst to be a child,” said Lyons. On women’s inclusion in the peace process, Lyons said: “We have spoken as well, a great deal, in this forum about the necessity of including women in the process.”