ISLAMABAD: President Donald Trump’s key aide on Thursday said the ultimate aim of the United States policy on Afghanistan is to bring insurgents on the negotiating table in order to find a peaceful and enduring solution to the perpetual conflict in the war-torn country.
The statement from Alice Wells, Acting Secretary of State for South Asia and Central Asian Affairs, appears to have endorsed Pakistan’s longstanding stance that the solution to the Afghan conflict could only be found through an all-inclusive dialogue process.
Wells is in Pakistan as part of continuing conversation between the two countries to find a common ground on Afghanistan.
The senior American diplomat held talks with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and met National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua.
US senior official Alice Wells arrives in Pakistan to discuss South Asia strategy
Discussions focused on bilateral relations, the current Afghan situation as well as evolving a mechanism to ensure dignified repatriation of over 2.5 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.
This is Wells’ second visit to Pakistan this year and came just on the heels of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence in Washington recently during his private visit to the United States.
Although there was no direct reference in the statement issued by the Foreign Office, Wells renewed US demand urging Pakistan to deal with alleged sanctuaries of the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups.
The Foreign Office said both the sides agreed that the momentum of the peace initiative unveiled in Kabul by President Ashraf Ghani and followed up in Tashkent “needs to be carried forward”.
Mechanisms for the return of refugees and strengthening border management were also discussed. Both the sides also reiterated their firm commitments to act against all groups that target Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua also apprised the visiting delegation of the continued ceasefire violations by India that undermined stability of the region.
Pakistan’s position that a comprehensive dialogue was the only way forward for civilised nations to resolve outstanding issues was reiterated.
Noting that the US and Pakistan had a long track record of cooperation, Ambassador Wells emphasised the importance of working together to achieve the common objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. The two sides agreed to continue bilateral engagements at all levels.
Welcoming the US dignitary, NSA Janjua stressed that Pakistan and the United Sates had a common cause in seeking early closure to the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan.
He apprised Ambassador Wells about his recent visit to Kabul where he had in-depth, positive and constructive discussions with President Ashraf Ghani and other senior government officials.
Janjua once again welcomed President Ghani’s peace offer and termed it a great opportunity to end a perpetual conflict.
He called it as a “light at the other side of the tunnel”.
“The need of the hour for all of us is to work together and end the miseries of Afghanistan and its people by seeking an early closure of the conflict instead of winning it.”
He assured, that Pakistan with the help all the regional countries and the US will support the new peace initiative.
On counterterrorism cooperation, the adviser apprised about the ongoing efforts of Pakistan and its unswerving commitment to eradicate all forms of terrorism in its own national interests.
In this context, Janjua stressed the need of trusting each other and continuing intelligence sharing and cooperation.
Ambassador Wells agreed on the need to support President Ghani’s peace offer and to make efforts for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan through political reconciliation.
“The United States’ policy on Afghanistan, she explained, was also meant to ultimately bring the insurgents to the peace table for negotiations on finding a peaceful and enduring solution.
She encouraged good relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan which will help them work in a cooperative framework.
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Ambassador Wells assured that the United States valued its bilateral relations with Pakistan and was ready to extend cooperation on all issues including the repatriation of refugees and the common objective of peace, development and stability in South Asia.
Pakistan dossier to Afghanistan
Meanwhile, Pakistan on Thursday handed over a dossier to the Afghan embassy in Islamabad, according to the Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal.
“The dossier contains evidence of involvement of Afghanistan-based TTP in the suicide bombing at a Pak Army unit in Swat and the presence of TTP, JuA and other terrorist groups’ hideouts in Afghan territory,” the spokesperson told reporters at the weekly news briefing.
The Afghan side was asked to take effective action against terrorist hideouts from where they have been financing, planning and undertaking cross-border terrorist attacks on Pakistani military posts, cities and towns.
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