Senior Afghan politician meets PM Imran, army chief to discuss Afghan peace process

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Afghan High Peace Council Chairman and leader of the Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami (Afghan Unity Party), Mohammad Karim Khalili, met Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in separate meetings on Tuesday to discuss bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process.

Khalili, who arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a three-day visit, met the prime minister in Islamabad and exchanged views on the Afghan peace process and relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to a report by Radio Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran emphasised his stance that there was “no military solution to the Afghan conflict and a negotiated political settlement is the only way forward”.

“The prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s consistent support to the Afghan peace process and underscored that the intra-Afghan negotiations must be pursued with perseverance and patience for an inclusive and broad-based solution,” the report added.

The premier also shared Pakistan’s commitment to strengthening the bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, including trade and economic ties and people-to-people linkages.

Meeting with COAS

According to the military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the AUP leader called on the army chief at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

“Matters of mutual interest, peace and stability in the region, connectivity and current developments in Afghan peace process were discussed during the meeting,” the ISPR said in a statement.

During the meeting, Gen Bajwa said that peace in Afghanistan was linked to peace in Pakistan. “A stable and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbours is in Pakistan’s national interest,” the statement quoted the COAS as saying.

Meeting with FM

Earlier today, Khalili, along with a delegation, met Foreign Minister Qureshi to discuss relations between the two countries and progress made in the Afghan peace process.

During the meeting, Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s desire for peace in the neighbouring country, saying that “after the Afghans, Pakistan was the country most desirous of peace in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan [has] always emphasised that there was no military solution of the Afghan conflict and that a negotiated political settlement was the only way forward,” he said.

The minister “stressed the importance of an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political solution through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process”, according to a statement from the Foreign Office.

Qureshi assured the visiting delegation that Pakistan would continue to facilitate the Afghan peace process, warning at the same time about ‘spoilers’ who he said did not want peace in the war-torn country.

He also reiterated Pakistan’s call for all sides to take measures to reduce violence, eventually leading to a ceasefire.

The Afghan leadership should seize the “historic opportunity” for establishing peace in the country through the intra-Afghan negotiations, Qureshi said.

Bilateral relations also came under discussion in the meeting with the foreign minister highlighting the “steps taken by Pakistan to strengthen bilateral and transit trade and introduction of revised visa policy to facilitate Afghan nationals”.

“Foreign minister Qureshi further expressed the hope that the return of peace and stability in Afghanistan would provide a strong impetus to economic development, regional integration, and connectivity, benefitting Afghanistan and the region.

“[He] also emphasised Pakistan’s commitment to safe and dignified return of Afghan refugees to their homeland,” according to the FO.

The statement further said that Khalili thanked Pakistan for its “consistent support” through its efforts for the peace process as well as for “hosting millions of Afghan refugees for the last many decades”.

He also “appreciated the various steps taken by Pakistan to strengthen trade between the two countries and facilitate Afghan nationals through revised visa policy”.

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