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PM Imran asks Afghan warring groups to seize opportunity for peace

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan recalled Pakistan’s support for Afghan peace process and once again called on the warring groups to capitalise on the opportunity created by the start of their dialogue.

He was talking to Ahmad Wali Massoud, head of Afghanistan’s Massoud Foundation and younger brother of slain leader of the erstwhile Northern Alliance Ahmad Shah Massoud, who is currently visiting Pakistan along with a delegation.

“The intra-Afghan negotiations provide a historic opportunity which must be seized by the Afghan leadership to achieve an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement,” Mr Khan stressed.

He said Pakistan extended full support to facilitate the US-Taliban Peace Agreement and the initiation of intra-Afghan negotiations.

The intra-Afghan talks, which commenced last September in Doha, have halted since the Biden Administration announced that it would review US peace deal with the Taliban signed last February.

The announcement created an uncertain situation, which was further complicated by assertions by US officials that Taliban were not abiding by the commitments of their agreement with US.

This assessment, especially the claim about the insurgent group’s continued ties with Al Qaeda, has on the one hand angered the Taliban, and on the other the Afghan government is seeing an opportunity for itself to advance its interests and delay the withdrawal of US and other coalition forces.

The US had in January reduced its troops deployed in Afghanistan to 2,500. Under the agreement with Taliban, the US would withdraw all troops by April 30.

The outcome of the review is expected to decide the future course of the negotiations. It is obvious that the new administration in Washington does not want to remain entangled in the Afghan conflict, but may link withdrawal of the troops to the conditions on the ground.

Taliban attacks have spiked considerably and the latest report by US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruc­tion notes that Taliban actions contradict the commitments they had made in the agreement with US with regards to ending affiliation with terrorist groups, reduction in levels of overall violence and stopping attacks on major population centres and US and coalition forces.

Imran Khan said: “Pakistan has been emphasising to all sides to work together constructively, take steps for reduction of violence leading to ceasefire, and secure a political solution for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.”

Underlining the need for a political settlement of the protracted conflict, the prime minister reiterated his long-held position that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

A “negotiated political settlement” was the only way forward, he maintained. APP

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