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Tuesday Jan 12 2021

Peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan: Gen Bajwa to Afghan dignitary

Muhammad Karim Khalili, Chairman Hizb-e-Wahadat Islami Afghanistan and former Chairman Afghan High Peace Council (L) and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, in a meeting at the GHQ, in Rawalpindi, on January 12, 2021. — Stills from video courtesy ISPR

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday said that "peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan", according to a statement by Inter-Services Public Relations.

Gen Bajwa's remarks came during a meeting with Chairman Hizb-e-Wahadat Islami Afghanistan and former Chairman Afghan High Peace Council, Mohammad Karim Khalili, who called on the army chief at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi today, said the military's media wing.

During the meeting, "matters of mutual interest, peace and stability in the region, connectivity and current developments in Afghan peace process were discussed", according to the ISPR statement.

The army chief said that "a stable and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbours is in Pakistan’s national interest".

The visiting dignitary appreciated the positive role played by Pakistan and the army chief's vision on future of Pak-Afghan relations.

An Afghan delegation, led by Muhammad Karim Khalili, arrived in the country on Monday for a two-day visit during which it is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser as well.

Ustad Khalili meets PM Imran Khan

Later in the day, Ustad Karim Khalili called on Prime Minister Imran Khan, where they exchanged views on the progress in the Afghan peace process and bilateral relations between the countries.

The prime minister conveyed Pakistan’s commitment to strengthen the bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, including trade and economic ties and people-to-people linkages, according to a tweet from the PM's Office.

The premier underscored his longstanding position that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that a negotiated political settlement was the only way forward.

"Noting that the Afghan people had suffered gravely due to prolonged conflict in the country, the Prime Minister stressed that after the Afghan people, Pakistan was most desirous of peace and stability in Afghanistan," the tweet said.

The prime minister also assured the Afghan delegation of Pakistan’s continued support for human resource development through scholarships and socio-economic development projects in Afghanistan.

Delegation meets Minister for Foreign Affairs

Earlier in the day, a delegation of the Hizb-e-Wahdat-e Islami called on Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the Afghan peace process.

During the meeting, the foreign minister reiterated Islamabad's stance that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict, adding only political dialogue could resolve the matter.

Welcoming the progress made during the intra-Afghan talks, Qureshi expressed optimism about the second round of talks being held in Doha.

He emphasised that the regional peace was linked to the stability in Afghanistan and expressed satisfaction over the progress in intra-Afghan dialogue, saying it provides a unique opportunity to the Afghan leadership which must be seized for peace in the country.

Qureshi regretted that India is acting as a spoiler in Afghanistan and we have presented irrefutable evidence in this regard before the world community.

The foreign minister shared that the government was taking concrete steps for the promotion of bilateral relations between the two countries, adding that Pakistan has also introduced a new visa policy to facilitate the Afghans.

Ustad Khalili thanked the foreign minister for hosting the Afghan refugees over the last many decades and praised Pakistan's role in the Afghan peace process.

Visit part of ongoing policy

Khalili's visit is part of Pakistan’s ongoing policy to reach out to political leadership in Afghanistan to forge common understanding on the Afghan peace process and deepen people-to-people linkages, the MOFA said in a statement.

"Pakistan’s fraternal ties with Afghanistan are rooted deep in shared history, faith, culture, values and traditions," read the press release. "Pakistan fully supports all efforts for peace, stability and prosperity of the Afghan people."

The ministry stressed that Islamabad "remains steadfast in its support for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political solution of the conflict in Afghanistan through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process".