Reaffirming Pakistan’s strong solidarity with Afghan people, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Sunday voiced hope that the Afghan peace process will resume soon.
Addressing a high-level event on ‘Afghanistan’s Peaceful Reconstruction and Regional Cooperation’, Aziz said Pakistan was ready to facilitate peace talks if the Afghan government so desired. “Such resumption of dialogue is an important prerequisite for peace and stability in the country,” he said, adding that peace in Afghanistan was essential for Pakistan’s own security.
Aziz, however, stressed that Pakistan’s efforts to persuade Afghan Taliban to participate in peace talks should not be interpreted as its indirect endorsement of the current surge in violence in Afghanistan.
The first-ever round of direct talks between Afghan government official and Taliban representatives took place in popular tourist resort of Murree in July this year. However, the talks were suspended after announcement of Afghan Taliban longtime leader Mullah Omar’s death and a subsequent spike in militant attacks in the war-torn country.
Sunday’s event was co-hosted by Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cevdet Yilmaz and foreign ministers of Australia, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Norway, and European Union (EU) high representative also took part in the event.
A number of delegations reiterated their pledge for long-term support for Afghanistan. They emphasised that ‘Great Games’ of the past should be converted into the ‘Great Gains’ for the future of Afghanistan.
They underscored that the interest of Afghan people, who had suffered enormously in the past, should be held above everything. In this regard, the Afghan government and the Taliban were encouraged to compromise and meet ‘halfway’ for their country’s peace and stability.
A co-chair’s statement issued after the event expressed long term support for political process, economic reconstruction, security and stability, regional cooperation as well as peace.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2015.