- Foreign minister says lasting peace can only be achieved through a political settlement accepted by the people of Afghanistan
(Karachi) Former Afghan prime minister and Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has said that the people of Afghanistan consider Pakistan as their second home.
He said this during a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at Foreign Office on Monday. Hekmatyar is on a three-day visit as part of efforts to push the Afghan peace process forward.
The former Afghan PM is accompanied by Afghan delegation and is scheduled to meet President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser and other dignitaries. He will also deliver a talk at a policy think-tank and interact with the media.
During the meeting, both dignitaries discussed matters of mutual interest, bilateral relations between the two countries and the Afghan peace process.
On the occasion, FM Qureshi said that Pakistan will continue to play the role of a facilitator in the Afghan peace process. He said peace and stability in the region is linked to long-lasting peace in Afghanistan.
"Prime Minister Imran Khan has said lasting peace can only be achieved through a political settlement accepted by the people of Afghanistan," he added.
The foreign minister maintained that Pakistan's stance and efforts in Intra-Afghan talks are now being recognised by the world. "Intra-Afghan talks provide a unique opportunity to the leadership for establishing lasting peace in the country," Shah Mahmood said.
Hekmatyar's recent visit will provide an opportunity for exchange of views on the Afghan peace process and strengthening of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations as well as people-to-people interaction.
Earlier, Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Chairman Dr Abdullah Abdullah visited Pakistan and appreciated Pakistan’s efforts with regards to the Afghan peace process. He praised Pakistan’s recent string of confidence-building measures as the Afghan government and the Taliban try to finalise a peace deal.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have long been rocky. But Abdullah said that there was a need for going “beyond the rhetoric and the usual blame game”, because no one could afford to pursue dissolution.
In February this year, a deal was struck between the United States and the Taliban in which it was agreed that 5,000 Taliban prisoners will be released from Afghan prisons before peace talks between the militant group and the government.
On August 10, Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to release the final batch of prisoners demanded by the Taliban as a condition to move to peace talks.
Later, the Afghan government released the remaining Taliban prisoners, kicking of intra-Afghan peace talks.