ISLAMABAD: Expressing hope that the Afghan Taliban will join the peace process, Pakistan’s new permanent ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday said that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.
Her remarks come amid reports that the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government are all set to start peace talks.
Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister Hekmat Karzai had said on Monday that talks with the “armed opponents will start soon” and that Kabul is in the process of forming a negotiation team for the process.
“The Taliban will no doubt test the mettle of the Afghan National Security Force. It will need to demonstrate to them that a military solution is not possible,” Dr Lodhi said at the UN Security Council debate on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
“The new Afghan government has called for dialogue to resolve differences through political means. There are encouraging indications that the Taliban may be willing to negotiate with the National Unity Government,” she said in a written statement to the body in her maiden speech as Pakistan’s envoy to the UN.
“We hope they [Taliban] will join the reconciliation process. It is for the Afghan government to set out the terms and framework for such reconciliation,” she said.
Taliban have rejected recent media reports surrounding the talks and have insisted they would not sit face-to-face with the Kabul administration as foreign troops stay in Afghanistan and that the Afghan rulers have “no powers.”
In spite of the Taliban refusal the Afghan government is confident about the peace process and Hekmat Karzai, the nephew of Hamid Karzai, said a venue is being decided for the talks.
Afghan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmad Shakib Mustaghni, evaded comments on Tuesday when journalists asked queries about the update on peace talks.
“The deputy foreign minister had offered remarks about the talks,” Mustaghni said and advised the journalists to approach the presidential spokesperson and the High Peace Council.
Lodhi urged the international community to actively support the peace process, adding that Pakistan will do all that is possible to facilitate it.
“We welcome China’s closer engagement in promoting reconciliation and economic development in Afghanistan,” she added.
Referring to the UN secretary-general’s warning in his report on Afghanistan that peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan is not likely to be fast or smooth, she said, “Afghan parties and the international community will need to exercise strategic patience. Those who may desire to disrupt the peace process should be discouraged.”
On bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, she said President Ashraf Ghani’s historic visit to Islamabad last November and his talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif succeeded in overcoming in three days the accumulated challenges of 13 years and produced a strategic shift in bilateral relations.
“Leaders of the two countries have committed not to allow their respective territories to be used against each other. Renewed interaction in the military and intelligence sphere has strengthened mutual confidence.”
Pakistan is working to strengthen border controls and cooperation, said Dr Lodhi, and praised Afghanistan’s cooperation against terrorists targeting Pakistan.