ISLAMABAD: A day after US President Joe Biden announced American troops’ complete withdrawal by September 11, 2021, Pakistan emphasised that the foreign forces’ exit from Afghanistan should coincide with the progress in the peace process.
Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, while responding to media queries said we have seen the statement of US President Joe Biden announcing that the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan will start on 1 May 2021 and will be completed by 11 September 2021.
“In our view, it is important that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan coincides with the progress in the peace process. We hope that the forthcoming meeting of Afghan leadership in Turkey would be an important opportunity for Afghans to make progress towards a negotiated political settlement,” he said.
He stated that Pakistan has been consistently supporting and facilitating the efforts for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“We believe there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and a negotiated political solution through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process is important for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he stated.
Towards this end, he added that the US-Taliban agreement of 29 February 2020 laid foundation for a comprehensive intra-Afghan peace agreement including a permanent ceasefire for bringing an end to violence in Afghanistan.
“In this regard, we support the principle of responsible troop withdrawal in coordination with Afghan stake-holders. We also hope the US will continue to urge the Afghan leaders to seize this historic opportunity for achieving a political settlement in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson added.
He added that Pakistan has consistently reiterated that peace and stability in Afghanistan is in our interest, adding that Pakistan reaffirms its abiding commitment for a peaceful, stable, united, democratic, sovereign, and prosperous Afghanistan.
“A meaningful engagement of the international community for promoting reconstruction and economic development in the post-conflict Afghanistan is important for ensuring sustainable peace and stability,” he asserted.
He said that Pakistan believes that another key feature in the efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan should be a time-bound and well-resourced plan for return of Afghan refugees to their homeland and their reintegration in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan will continue to work together with the international community in the efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson added.
A day earlier, on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden, while announcing the foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, warned the Taliban that he would hold them accountable on Afghanistan after the US exit, besides asking regional countries including Pakistan to play “supportive” roles.
“We will hold the Taliban accountable for its commitment not to allow any terrorists to threaten the US or its allies from Afghan soil. The Afghan government has made that commitment to us as well…We will ask other countries in the region to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India and Turkey,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken who telephoned Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in Afghan peace process, Thursday arrived in an unannounced visit to Kabul, where he exchanged views on the situation with Afghan leadership including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
According to a statement issued by State Department spokesperson Ned Price, Secretary Blinken met with Afghanistan President Ghani in Kabul to affirm the United States’ continued commitment to Afghanistan.
“Secretary Blinken made clear that the United States stands with Afghanistan and its people in support of a peaceful and prosperous future,” the spokesperson said, adding that Secretary Blinken and President Ghani discussed, "our shared investment in Afghanistan and the importance of preserving the gains of the last twenty years, especially in building a strong civil society and protecting the rights of women and girls."
They also discussed counter-terrorism cooperation and our shared commitment to ensure al-Qaeda never regains a foothold in Afghanistan, the statement added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021