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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi Wednesday reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, and asked the Afghan leadership to seize the historic opportunity to work together for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive future political settlement.

The president expressed these views during a meeting with the visiting Chairman, High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) of Afghanistan Dr Abdullah Abdullah, who called on him at the presidency.

Expressing satisfaction at the progress achieved in the Afghan peace process, the president conveyed his best wishes for success of Dr Abdullah Abdullah in his assignment as chairman of the HCNR. President Dr Alvi reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, and emphasized that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, and a politically-negotiated settlement was the only way forward.

He noted that Pakistan’s contribution to the peace process had been appreciated by the international community adding that commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha was a watershed.

He stressed that the Afghan leadership must seize this historic opportunity to work together constructively and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

President Alvi reaffirmed that Pakistan would stand-by the decisions made by the Afghan nation with regard to the future of Afghanistan.

The president emphasized the importance of patience and perseverance in the peace negotiations. He also underlined the need for guarding against the “spoilers”, who did not wish to see return of peace in the region.

He further underscored that peace in Afghanistan was essential for Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as the region, to realise their economic potential.

He emphasized that Pakistan had opened border crossing-points to facilitate Afghan transit trade despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The two countries should work together to enhance trade, transit and people-to-people exchanges, he added.

The president underlined that Pakistan had completed a number of development projects in Afghanistan, including hospitals, schools, hostels and road network. Pakistan would be willing to extend more opportunities for Afghan students in higher education, he added.

In a series of tweets, Dr Abdullah stated that he had a friendly and constructive meeting with President Alvi, and thanked the president, the government and people of Pakistan for their continued support for the peace process, and strengthening of bilateral relations.

“I had a friendly & constructive meeting with President Dr Arif Alvi. We discussed the Afghan Peace Process & bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. President

Alvi expressed his full support for the peace efforts & strengthening of relations between the brotherly countries,” he said.

He further stated: “I thanked the President, the government, & people of Pakistan for their warm welcome, hospitality, & continued support for the peace process, & strengthening of bilateral relations.”

Dr Abdullah also held a meeting with Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz and other members of the council, and highlighted the role of religious scholars in peace efforts.

“Today, I met Dr Qibla Ayaz, Chairman and other distinguished members of the Council of Islamic Ideology of Pakistan. I highlighted the important role of Ulema and religious leaders in the peace efforts. I thanked them for their assurance to support the Afghan peace process,” Dr Abdullah stated in a tweet.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020