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    PAKISTAN CALLS FOR A SERIOUS PEACE PROCESS IN AFGHANISTAN AT UN

    Chitral Times Report

     

    ISLAMABAD: Calling for a serious peace process in Afghanistan, Pakistan told the UN Security Council that Prime Minister Imran Khan has long advocated a political settlement to bring the long war there to a negotiated end, says a press release received here today from New York. “In his very first address to the nation after the elections, Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan”, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi said while speaking in a debate on Afghanistan. She told the 15-member Council that Afghanistan is the first country visited by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi last weekend, which, she said, is a clear signal of the importance that the new Government attaches to its relations with Afghanistan and its commitment to promote peace and stability in that country. “His message in Kabul was that Pakistan remained ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peace and reconciliation In Afghanistan” she declared. Ambassador Lodhi said that “there are some signs that a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s protracted war may be possible.” She cited the ceasefire on Eid ul Fitr between the Afghan government and the Taliban Afghanistan, which gave a boost to hopes for peace. “Apart from the general desire for peace, the ceasefire affirmed that peace was possible if the principal parties in Afghanistan desire it”, she asserted. Ambassador Lodhi said that Pakistan welcomed the Trump Administration’s acknowledgement that a negotiated political settlement is the best option to bring its longest war to an end. This, she emphasized, was the course of action that Pakistan had urged for over a decade. And she pointed to the fact that the UN and the international community too have consistently declared that there is no military solution to the conflict and that it must be ended through a negotiated settlement. Ambassador Lodhi said that an agreement on launching a negotiating process would neither be simple nor easy. Several past attempts, she recalled, have been aborted by unilateral actions, adding that at present “there is little trust between the main antagonists.” She referred to the fact that preconditions have been set by some of the main parties to commence and continue a dialogue process. “The principal responsibility for seizing the moment rests on the parties directly involved in the Afghan conflict. Unless they display flexibility, serious negotiations for a political settlement could be delayed”, she said. “To create an environment for peace talks, all sides should agree on a de-escalation if not cessation of violence”, she stressed. “For its part, Pakistan will actively encourage, support and facilitate all efforts to launch a credible peace process”, she added. The Pakistani envoy said, “A negotiated peace and national reconciliation is all the more essential to enable the Afghan people and the international community to confront and eliminate the growing presence of Daesh in Afghanistan.” “Daesh, and a number of terrorist groups, which operate under its umbrella, including the TTP and JUA, pose a threat to Afghanistan, its neighbors and indeed to the world”, she added. The Pakistani envoy said she agreed with the Russian Ambassador who spoke earlier in the debate, that an international effort is needed to defeat Daesh in Afghanistan. Speaking about bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan she said cooperation between the two countries was a vital component of the endeavor to realize peace and security within Afghanistan and the entire region. “The Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) provides a framework for comprehensive and structured engagement between our two countries”, she added. She concluded by saying that the bonds of blood, language, faith, geography and history that tie the peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan to each other are immutable and unbreakable. “Our destinies are and will always remain intertwined”, she said.

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