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April 6, 2019

Pakistan backs intra-Afghan dialogue, Qureshi tells Khalilzad

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April 6, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The US Secretary of State's Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has praised the efforts of Pakistan for peace in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad said this in separate meetings with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday.

According to the ISPR, Khalilzad called on General Bajwa at the General Headquarters (GHQ). During the meeting, overall regional security situation with particular reference to ongoing Afghan reconciliation process was discussed. The visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s efforts towards peace process.

While reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to the Afghan peace process, the United States was informed that Islamabad laid great emphasis on the intra-Afghan dialogue which was a vital component of the reconciliation process.

“Pakistan wished well for the peace and stability in Afghanistan which would directly benefit Pakistan’s own vision for economic and human development,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Khalilzad, who called on him at the Foreign Office. The two sides met when Prime Minister Imran Khan in a public gathering in in Jamrud said, “Not having an interim government in Afghanistan could lead to chaos”.

Earlier in a telephone talk with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Qureshi had raised the issue of the situation being jeopardised by Indian aggression for its political purposes and elections, which can disturb joint efforts to establish peace in Afghanistan. After the meeting, both Pakistan and the United States said that they would remain engaged to pursue the reconciliation process.

“Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad briefed the foreign minister on the outcome of Doha talks and his recent engagements in the region. He also shared updates on his meetings in Afghanistan and the dynamics of the intra-Afghan dialogue,” said the Foreign Office in a statement.

Earlier, Ambassador Khalilzad had delegation-level talks with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. Ambassador Khalilzad was accompanied by an inter-agency delegation. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua was assisted by senior officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.

The foreign secretary also briefed him about telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. She informed about their mutual interest in further progress on Afghan peace efforts and that they agreed to remain engaged to pursue the reconciliation process.

The American envoy flew into Islamabad from Kabul where he held talks with the Afghan leadership and a cross section of civil society including the youth and women for their input into the continuing Afghan reconciliation process.

While in Afghanistan, Ambassador Khalilzad had tweeted that in his meetings with Afghan leaders they agreed that the intra-Afghan dialogue should be comprehensive and inclusive with representatives from the Afghan government, women, young people and civil society.

“I started my morning by meeting with #Afghan government representatives with responsibility for the #AfghanPeaceProcess, including the President’s Chief of Staff Rahimi & SE Daudzai. We discussed the urgency of making progress on intra-Afghan dialogue,” the ambassador had tweeted.

However, publicly at least neither side have commented on the Pakistan Taliban which have been given safe custody inside Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Twitter had been abuzz since Thursday when Tolo News story was picked up in which the ambassador was quoted as saying, “Since I have taken on the role, I have encouraged them to play a more positive role, because if they want to improve their ties with the US, their policy towards Afghanistan must change, otherwise, the US and Pakistan relations will not improve.”