Negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan only way forward, says Pakistan

by Sami Burgaz
Afghan delegation in Pakistan to discuss transfer of power in Afghanistan.

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – A delegation of senior Afghan leaders met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the capital Islamabad on Monday to discuss the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan, including the transfer of power and establishment of an inclusive government in the war-torn country.

The delegation led by former Interior Minister Younus Qanooni is on a four-day visit to Pakistan to court Islamabad to use its reported influence over the Taliban for an inclusive political solution, following the fall of the capital Kabul to the militia without any resistance.

The visiting delegation comprised other Afghan leaders, mainly from the Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara communities, including Parliament Speaker Wolesi Jirga Mir Rehman Rehamni, former Foreign Minister Salauddin Rabbani, and former Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili — also the leader of the Hezb-e Wahdat Islami party but represents the Shia community.

Ahmad Zia Massoud and Ahmad Wali Massoud — brothers of slain Afghan guerrilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud — along with MP Abdul Latif Pedram, and Khalid Noor — the son of Atta Mohammad Noor, one of Afghanistan’s most prominent politicians, were also among the participants of the delegation.

During the meeting, according to a Foreign Ministry statement, the two sides agreed that a negotiated political settlement is the only way forward, following the end of a “20-year long Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan.”

Sharing Pakistan’s perspective, Qureshi said Islamabad considers all segments of the Afghan society important in the final destiny of Afghanistan.

He expressed the hope that the Afghan leaders would take advantage of international support for peace and reconciliation and work together to deal with the evolving situation in Afghanistan “in the supreme national interest of the country and according to the aspiration of people.”

He underlined that the region could not afford the continued instability in Afghanistan, which would adversely affect the objective of a peaceful and connected region.

The international community’s continued engagement in the efforts for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan, he further said, would be important as “it is a shared responsibility.”

Stressing that lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interest, the top diplomat reaffirmed that Islamabad will continue to play its “constructive” role to support a peaceful, united, and prosperous Afghanistan.

Appreciating the invitation for consultation on the latest situation in Afghanistan, the statement noted that the delegation acknowledged Pakistan’s “facilitative” role vis-a-vis the reconciliation process.

The delegation underlined the multi-ethnic nature of the Afghan society and importance of an inclusive political solution, emphasizing its commitment to forge long-term relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and to expand the fraternal ties in all areas.

Meanwhile, Qureshi in a series of tweets minutes after the meeting said his country’s position is “very clear” on the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.

“Today’s meeting with a political delegation of Afghanistan’s leaders led by Muhammad Younas Qanooni, all of whom have a vital stake in the country’s future, took place at an extremely critical time. Our ultimate objective is a peaceful, united, democratic, stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” he said.

“We believe that a negotiated political settlement is the only way forward. We do not wish to see continued cycle of civil war and want the people of Afghanistan to thrive, not simply survive,” he said.

He said the international community must remain engaged with Afghanistan.

“It is important that we closely coordinate our next steps for the benefit of Afghanistan and the region. There is clear international convergence in support of peace and reconciliation process, and it is critical for Afghan leaders to unite for an inclusive and comprehensive political settlement,” he went on to say.

Islamabad’s influence over the Taliban is viewed as crucial to court the warring militia.

In December 2018, Pakistan arranged rare direct talks between Washington and the Taliban, which led to the Doha peace deal in February 2020, and subsequently the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghan soil.

Islamabad also facilitated the landmark first round of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Pakistan in July 2015.

The process, however, broke down after the news of long-time Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death surfaced, triggering a bitter internal power struggle.

It was further hampered by the killing of Omer’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, in a US drone strike on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in 2016.

Former US President Donald Trump in August 2019 stepped up efforts to resume the long-stalled process, seeking Pakistan’s help to end Washington’s longest war in recent history.


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