Afghan leaders laud Pakistan’s efforts for peace

Afghan leaders laud Pakistan’s efforts for peace

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Afridi has said that Afghanistan is an independent and sovereign state. Therefore, its leadership may decide without any external intervention to achieve lasting peace under the Afghan peace process.

Addressing the concluding session of the day-long conference on the Afghan Peace Process in Bhurban Murree, he said Pakistan’s civil and military leadership is united for Afghan-led, and Afghan-owned peace dialogue as peaceful Afghanistan is interlinked to peace in the region and beyond.

Though Pakistan suffered heavily due to terrorism, weaponization, drugs mafia, and other ills, the minister never turned its back on Afghan Refugees.

Speaking at the conference, various political and politico-religious stalwarts from Afghanistan have pledged to give peace a chance in their war-torn country.

Chief of Hizbe Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, brother of the late leader of Northern Alliance Ahmed Shah Massoud Ahmed Wali, Hizbe Islami leader Wahid Ullah Sabhun, Hanif Atmar, and leader of Hizbe Wahdat Mardam Afghanistan Ustad Muhmmad Muhaqiq were of the view that reconciliation is the only option to come over the feuds.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said we want peace at all costs in Afghanistan.

Wahidullah Sabhun acknowledged the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan and lauded its efforts to help forge peace in the region.

Hanif Atmar appreciated Pakistan for accepting the sovereignty and integrity of Afghanistan as an independent state.

Pakistan supports lasting peace, stability in Afghanistan: FM

In his speech at the inaugural session of the Afghan peace conference title “Lahore Process” in Bhurban Murree, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has reiterated Pakistan’s unshakable resolve to support lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Afghanistan, besides lending support to the reconstruction and development efforts in the war-torn country.

He maintained that Pakistan stood for Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and remained fully committed to a peaceful, stable, united, democratic, and prosperous Afghanistan.

The Minister said we are determined to build our bilateral relationship on the principles of non-interference, mutual respect, and common interest.

Several prominent Afghan leadership, including Afghan High Peace Council chairman Karim Khalili, Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, Ustad Atta Noor, and others, attended the conference.

About decades’ long conflict in Afghanistan, the minister said it had brought great suffering to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He said no one had suffered more than the people of Pakistan due to this persistent instability and conflict.

Linking Pakistan’s security with the instability in Afghanistan, Qureshi said it continued to be deeply influenced by the security situation in Afghanistan.

“Advancing the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan is, therefore, in Pakistan’s own national interest,” he reiterated, adding mutual ties between the two countries were based upon principles of non-interference, mutual respect, and common interests.

He further clarified that no one in Pakistan subscribed to any so-called ‘strategic depth in Afghanistan.

“We must not let anyone resurrect this dead horse to advance their propagandist aims or seek to sow the seeds of misunderstanding between our Afghan brethren and us,” he added.

Qureshi said they wanted to see a friendly Afghanistan governed by an elected leadership and representative of the aspirations of all Afghans.

About the previous mistrust between the two neighbors, he said for too long, the vicious circle of mistrust, often fed into by their common enemies, had affected their relationship.

“It is indispensable to move away from this negative paradigm,” he emphasized.

The minister said Pakistan whole-heartedly facilitated the Afghan peace process in good faith and as a shared responsibility and would continue to play its due role in this regard.

He noted that Pakistan’s support was crucial in overcoming the political stalemate ‘that looked impossible to break just a year ago and mentioned Prime Minister Imran Khan’s personal commitment to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

He also referred to his visits to Kabul and others undertaken in the regional countries, including China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE, to build regional consensus on the ongoing peace process.

About the ongoing peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, he said the renewed push for peace had created a new opportunity, and every effort must be made to seize it.

“We cannot afford to miss this rare opportunity,” he said.

The minister also cautioned against the forces that wanted to create misunderstandings and divisions between them.

He observed that it was incumbent upon the two countries’ leadership to take practical steps to build mutual trust and confidence.

“We must not allow our respective territories to be used by anyone to the detriment of our interests,” he stressed.

Qureshi further said that Pakistan was committed to deepening its engagement with all sections of the Afghan society and their representatives to build on these achievements, as per the expectations of the people of Afghanistan.

He also noted with appreciation the achievements made by the Afghan people despite 18 years’ enormous long challenges.

In addition to playing our role in the peace process, he said, Pakistan also remained committed to the Afghan reconstruction and development efforts post-settlement.

He said Pakistan was ready to help Afghanistan through trade, investment, connectivity, and capacity-building of the Afghan people.

Pakistan was also committed to enhancing people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges, he added.

About the return of the Afghan refugees, he said they wished to work with Afghanistan and the world community to create conditions for the dignified, safe, and voluntary return of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan.

Appreciating the Afghan political leadership, he said the people of Afghanistan were looking towards their leaders, including all those present here, with the hope for a better future, a future, that they so earnestly deserved.

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