US-Taliban pact first step towards the Afghan peace, says FM Qureshi

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shah mehmood qureshi

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Doha Peace Accord between the United States and Afghan Taliban is a first step towards bringing permanent peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Addressing a news briefing along with Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood here on Sunday, he said peace deal has paved the way for Intra-Afghan negotiations, and Norway has expressed its willingness to hold the dialogue.
“The ultimate decision will be in the hands of Afghanistan government and a foreign actor cannot make that decision for them,” he added.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi said both the US and Afghan leadership have acknowledged Islamabad’s role in realizing this deal.
He reiterated that Pakistan will continue its policy of supporting the Afghan people in their efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Qureshi expressed hope that Afghanistan will not let its soil be used against Pakistan.
Calling the deal a historic event, the foreign minister emphasised its important for the region. “Afghan people have seen plenty of bloodshed,” he said and congratulated the US and Taliban for reaching a peace deal.
The foreign minister said he stressed upon three points to further the peace process in a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of the peace agreement event.
He said those seeking to create mischief must be identified and dealt with and to ensure the release of prisoners. Qureshi underscored that the intra-Afghan peace dialogue should not be delayed. He urged international support for the rehabilitation of the war-torn country.
Qureshi said Pakistan’s role in facilitating the peace talks was appreciated by all key players. “Those who had criticised Pakistan are now commending our efforts.”
He said the next time step would be deliberate how Pakistan can benefit from peace and stability in the region. “We also have to help contribute to ensure lasting peace is achieved.”
The foreign minister said Pakistan’s stance was vindicated with Qatar also emphasising that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.
In a question about the role of key players in the peace process, Qureshi acknowledged Russia and China favouring and facilitating the peace deal.
The foreign minister said the US Special Representative for Afghan Peace Process Zalmay Khalilzad underscored the reduction in violence during the seven-day ceasefire agreed upon by the US and the Taliban. He emphasised that the truce would be necessary during the intra-Afghan dialogue process. “Now it has to be seen how the groups within Afghanistan will sit together to resolve their problems,” he said.
Answering a query regarding Ashraf Ghani’s call against releasing Taliban prisoners, Qureshi said, without naming the Afghan president, that the man had not been in favour of the peace deal from the beginning.
Responding to a question regarding India’s controversial policies, Qureshi said the Narendra Modi-led government may have succeeded in hiding the situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir by imposing a communication and information lockdown but they could not hide the New Delhi riots. He further said that the United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres also embraced Pakistan’s stance that Kashmir is a bilateral issue. – TLTP