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January 26, 2021

To cut violence, ensure ceasefire: Pakistan stresses progress in intra-Afghan dialogue

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January 26, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Monday expressed ‘concern’ over the high level of violence in Afghanistan and emphasised progress in the intra-Afghan negotiations, which would facilitate reduction in violence, leading to a ceasefire.

Afghanistan was also assured of Pakistan’s cooperation with regard to strengthening bilateral trade and proposed establishment of border sustenance markets. These issues came up for discussion during a phone call between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar.

“Good connecting with Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar. In line with the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan (we) discussed importance of moving forward with establishment of border markets for stronger bilateral trade. We will continue working closely with Afghanistan for stability in (the) region and for success of Afghan peace process”, Qureshi said in a tweet.

This is the first high level contact between the two sides after the new administration took over in Washington and President Joe Biden made it known that they were going to review the deal arrived at by the US with the Afghan Taliban.

Qureshi once again reiterated Pakistan’s consistent support to a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. “The foreign minister underlined that intra-Afghan negotiations provided an historic opportunity to the Afghan leadership to achieve an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan”, said the Foreign Office.

Hanif Atmar was reminded of a special initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan to boost local trade and economic activity in the border regions. “The foreign minister expressed hope for the earliest finalization of the MoU”, said the Foreign Office.

While the Foreign Office did not comment on the views of Hanif Atmar during the phone call, it noted that Qureshi raised the issue of intra-Afghan negotiations which provided a window of opportunity for return of lasting peace in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has always held that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict and a political settlement is the only way forward. Pakistan will continue to play its positive role towards supporting the Afghan peace process and strengthening relations with Afghanistan”, Qureshi told his counterpart.

He also raised the issue of Pakistani prisoners languishing in Afghan jails over minor crimes and expressed hope that they would be released as per the presidential decree.