FM Qureshi meets Taliban delegation to discuss status of Afghan peace process, way forward

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with a delegation from the Afghan Taliban’s Qatar-based political office at the Foreign Office on Tuesday to discuss issues impeding the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue for ending the 19-year-old conflict in the country.

Mullah Baradar, the director of the political office and Taliban’s deputy emir responsible for political affairs, lead the delegation, which arrived on Monday on the invitation of the foreign ministry.

In a statement, the FO spokesperson said that views on the current status of the Afghan peace process and the way forward were exchanged during the meeting.

“Welcoming the delegation, the foreign minister underscored Prime Minister Imran Khan’s consistent stance that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that a political settlement was the only way forward.

“Highlighting Pakistan’s positive contribution to the peace and reconciliation process, culminating in the US-Taliban peace agreement in Doha on February 29, the foreign minister underlined that this historic opportunity must be seized by the Afghan stakeholders to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive negotiated political solution.”

Qureshi also reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, the statement said.

“The foreign minister emphasised the implementation of the US-Taliban peace agreement, in its entirety, paving the way for the earliest possible commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations.

“He also cautioned against ‘spoilers’ who did not wish to see return of peace in the region. For its part, the foreign minister stressed that Pakistan will continue to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for durable peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.”

Qureshi also highlighted the importance of Pakistan-Afghanistan ties based on amity, shared history and geography and reaffirmed the country’s abiding solidarity with the brotherly people of Afghanistan.

“He urged the international community to enhance its engagement for the reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan.

“The foreign minister also underscored the need for creating economic opportunities and an environment conducive for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour.”

Mullah Baradar thanked Qureshi for the invitation and affirmed support for efforts for peace, security and development in Afghanistan, the statement said.

The delegation also thanked the government and the people of Pakistan for their consistent support to the people of Afghanistan, including graciously hosting Afghan refugees for over four decades, it concluded.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the foreign minister said that the meeting with the Taliban leadership was two hours long. “The Taliban leadership thinks that Pakistan has played a positive role in bringing peace in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the only way forward was through dialogue.

He added that the Taliban thought that the peace deal inked in Doha should be implemented. “They highlighted that there were some obstacles that could be resolved through dialogue.”

On Monday, Qureshi had told a news conference that the delegation would visit the Foreign Office for a formal dialogue on Tuesday (today). He had not, however, shared any details about the length of the delegation’s visit and other engagements during their stay here.

This is the second visit of the Taliban’s political delegation to Pakistan, as they had visited Islamabad previously in October 2019.

In a Twitter post, Taliban political office spokesman Suhail Shaheen had announced that the visiting delegation would discuss “recent developments in Afghanistan’s peace process, relaxation and facilitation of peoples’ movement and trade between the two neighbouring countries, issues related to the Afghan refugees in Pakistan and other related topics”.

He said delegations from Taliban’s political office kept visiting various countries for “furthering positive relations” and “conveying views and stance to the world about the peace process”.

He said the trips had been postponed due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), but they were being resumed as the situation had improved. He

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