Pakistanís role for peace commendable
Mohammad Jamil


THE US special peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad said he had productive meetings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week as part of efforts to encourage negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan. He termed Pakistanís efforts for peace in Afghanistan as commendable. Khalilzad met Pakistanís army chief during a brief visit to Islamabad on December 19 and left for Kabul to update Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on his engagements with regional partners and others to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan. UAE State News Agency WAM added that a new round of talks would be held in Abu Dhabi soon. Taliban envoys are in discussion with America to free two captive Western professors in return for as many as 100 imprisoned militants, as part of a trust-building measure to spur a peace process.

Washington had always insisted that any peace settlement must be agreed between the Afghan government and the Taliban, but the latter refused to talk directly with Kabul, insisting on first brokering an agreement with the United States. Khalilzad had previously held at least two rounds of talks with Taliban officials in recent months. Khalilzad said he would like to see a roadmap agreement reached before the Afghan presidential election scheduled for next April. The decision to change the venue of talks from Qatar to the UAE was seen as an effort to involve Saudi Arabia, which is hostile to Doha, more closely in the process and to exert influence on its ally, Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan were the only three countries to recognize the Taliban government during its five-year rule, therefore they enjoy the goodwill of the Taliban.
The Taliban controls or contests nearly half of Afghanistan, where it is waging a deadly insurgency against the Western-backed Kabul government and its security forces. It appears there is realization on the part of the US and Afghan Government and they seek Pakistanís help in negotiations. Reportedly, they have hailed Pakistanís efforts in the peace process in Afghanistan. In fact, from Moscow Conference to trilateral cooperation Memorandum of Understanding signed between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan on 16th December 2018 in Kabul, have had positive effect on the US-Taliban talks. Pakistan being the victim of terrorism has always supported dialogue process for peaceful resolution of Afghan conflict and has always welcomed any step taken by international community for peaceful resolution. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who led the Pakistani delegation at the dialogue, signed the document along with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Yi and Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani.
Speaking at the trilateral dialogue, the Foreign Minister stressed the need for bolstering regional cooperation in diverse sectors. Reaffirming commitment to eradication of terrorism, the Foreign Minister said, ďBetter border management between Pakistan and Afghanistan and intelligence sharing will be greatly beneficial for both the countries.Ē Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that his country desired to make the Afghan reconciliation process successful. He added: ďWe will play our role to reduce trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and his country also wants to further strengthen relations with Afghanistan and desires to make it part of CPEC. Presence of President Ashraf Ghani during MoU signing ceremony signalled that efforts for peace yielded remarkable results. Pakistan and China both assured generous assistance to Afghan government for the well-being of Afghan people, as both have announced to some significant projects in this regard.
China has announced to lay railway line from Kandahar to Herat and other places afterwards, while Pakistan will hand over two most sophisticated hospitals next year with state-of-the-art equipment being built in neighbouring areas of Jalalabad and Logar. Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah hailed Pakistanís role in reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Talking to Pakistanís Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Kabul Saturday, he thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi for the cooperation being extended by Pakistan to attain peace in his country. The Afghan Chief Executive expressed hope that the bilateral relations will touch new heights during the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan. On the occasion, the Foreign Minister said Pakistan would continue playing its positive and constructive role in reconciliatory process in Afghanistan. He said peace in Afghanistan is important not only for Pakistan and Afghanistan but it would also have impact on the entire region.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed confidence that the Pakistan-China-Afghanistan trilateral dialogue forum will prove useful for peace and stability in the region and social development. It would not be wrong to say that trilateral meeting had positive effect on the US-Taliban talks in the UAE. In fact, the US was concerned about Russiaís initiative for peace in Afghanistan, as Russia had cordial relations with Afghan government and was in contact with the Taliban. Last month, Taliban envoys had taken part for the first time in high-level international talks, meeting Afghan officials in Moscow as part of a Russian-sponsored peace effort. Representatives from the militantsí Doha Office had said they were taking part alongside senior diplomats from the region to find a peaceful solution to the issue of Afghanistan. Both the militants and the Afghan government had insisted the discussions did not mark formal negotiations, and the meeting had ended without any breakthrough.