Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of the ninth “Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process” conference in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.
During the meeting, various issues of mutual interest, including Pak-Afghan bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process, were discussed.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan.
Pakistan is a partner in the efforts for peace in the region. “We are concerned about the rising incidence of violence in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always maintained that the Afghan issue cannot be resolved by force,” Qureshi said.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan was in favour of a political solution to the Afghan problem through comprehensive dialogue, adding that positive progress as a result of inter-Afghan dialogue could help bring the Afghan peace process to a logical conclusion. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan is committed to continuing its sincere efforts for peace in the region, including the Afghan peace process. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani wished Prime Minister Imran Khan a speedy recovery.
Earlier today, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reiterated that Pakistan will continue to support a stable, united, democratic, sovereign, and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbours.
He was addressing the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, in Dushanbe. Qureshi said that Afghan people have a historic opportunity for establishing peace in their country. “The deliberations at the conference will be meaningful and productive and the Dushanbe declaration will reflect our resolve to support and stand by the Afghan people at this most consequential time in their history.”
FM also expressed concern over violence in Afghanistan. He said that precious lives are being lost due to violent incidents in the country.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi further appreciated Pakistan’s role in establishing the Afghan Peace Process.
He said that Pakistan consistently urged the Afghan people to remain constructively engaged for securing a positive outcome. He urged the Afghan people to take the process forward through good faith, substantive and result-oriented negotiation.
He said that besides facilitating the peace process Pakistan has been extending all possible support to Afghanistan. Pakistan has committed One billion US dollars for Afghanistan’s development and reconstruction out of which nearly $ 500 million have already been spent on infrastructure and capacity building projects, he added.
He also announced that a new visa regime has been instituted to facilitate travel.
On the other hand, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan is committed to moving forward on regional connectivity and energy projects such as CASA 100 and TAPI. Pakistan has also operationalized Gwadar Sea Port for Afghan Transit Trade, he added.
Qureshi also talked about the negative role of spoilers, saying Pakistan has consistently cautioned against the role of the spoilers both within and outside Afghanistan. He said that we remain deeply concerned about the continuation of firings across Afghanistan resulting in the loss of precious lives. He said that any space gained by ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan will accentuate the threat of terrorism.
On the other hand, Qureshi showed concern over the risk posed by damaged infrastructure and lack of economic chances. He said that these factors will undermine the gains made in the peace process.
The signing of the Doha Agreement was a moment of hope and optimism and it must be our collective endeavor to ensure that this hope is not lost, he added.
“For this, everyone will have to show every bit of patience, commitment, and perseverance, adding that the constructive engagement and consultation on all key aspects is imperative.”
Shah Mahmood Qureshi mentioned that flexibility and the spirit of compromise would be indispensable. He suggested that the progress made on the Doha Process should be consolidated preserving the international community’s adjustment and the development gains made over the years, ensuring an orderly and responsible withdrawal making sure that reduction in violence and ceasefire is achieved at the earliest, culminating the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process into a political solution, securing the international community’s financial engagement to support Afghanistan in its post-conflict path to progress.
“Process should also include the long-term reconstruction and economic development for Afghanistan creating pull factors for the Afghan refugees to return to their homeland with dignity and honor through a time-bound and well-resourced plan.”
Above all, Qureshi congratulated the Tajik government for convening the conference amid the Covid pandemic.