News Desk |
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation landed in Islamabad on Friday. He arrived at the Foreign Ministry to hold the delegation-level talks between Pakistan and US representatives on the Afghan peace process, where he was received by a delegation headed by Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua. The US Ambassador for peace is on yet another voyage to South Asia, where he will be visiting multiple states, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, in his pursuit of peace and reconciliation with the Taliban.
Earlier today, the Foreign Office said that in a meeting, Ambassador Khalilzad briefed Foreign Minister Qureshi on the Doha talks, and his recent engagements during his region-wide tour. He also provided FM Qureshi with details of his meetings with Afghan leaders, and the “dynamics of the intra-Afghan dialogue”.
FM Qureshi stressed the importance of including the Afghan people and their leaders in the pursuit of a peace that is long-lasting and sustainable. He noted, “Intra-Afghan dialogue is a vital component of the reconciliation process”.
The FO statement notes, “She informed about their mutual interest in further progress on Afghanistan peace efforts and that they agreed to remain engaged to pursue the reconciliation process.”
The official statement of the Foreign Ministry notes that FM Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s desire to see a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. “He also said that Pakistan wished well for the peace and stability in Afghanistan which would directly benefit Pakistan’s own vision for economic and human development.”
Before calling on Foreign Minister Qureshi, Ambassador Khalilzad, accompanied by an interagency delegation, engaged in delegation-level talks with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. Foreign Secretary Janjua led a team of senior officials and representatives from the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs.
She brief Ambassador Khalilzad on the telephonic conversation between US Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Qureshi regarding Pakistan’s resolve and commitment to see progress in the Afghan reconciliation process. The FO statement notes, “She informed about their mutual interest in further progress on Afghanistan peace efforts and that they agreed to remain engaged to pursue the reconciliation process.”
US Ambassador Khalilzad will also be holding separate talks with top civil and military leadership during his visit to Islamabad.
Khalilzad Asks Pakistan to Shift its Policy Towards Kabul
Only a day before his trip to Islamabad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad publically asked Pakistan to shift its policy towards Afghanistan or else, “Islamabad and Washington’s ties will not improve”.
Tolo news, leading Afghan media outlet, reported that Khalilzad made these statements while addressing the youth from the Afghan provinces of Parwan, Jawzjan, and Bamiyan in a video conference on Thursday. The US envoy added that in order to reach a peace agreement in Afghanistan, it is important to establish an agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan in which “Pakistan should play a constructive role in Afghanistan”.
In the meeting held today, FM Qureshi has yet again reinstated Pakistan’s commitment to the Afghan peace process and its desire to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
Khalilzad attempted to highlight Pakistan’s alleged interferences in Afghanistan, and boosted that since he has taken up the role of the US ambassador of Afghan Peace, he has managed to encourage Pakistan to “play a more positive role”.
In a statement that appears to a veiled threat of Washington’s wrath if Pakistan fails to shift its policies towards the malignant Ghani-led government, Khalilzad said, “We support this and are seeking that an agreement should be reached between Afghanistan and Pakistan that can result in peace and (can stop) the interferences Pakistan has made in Afghanistan and I have been a witness of their (Pakistanis’) negative activities. Since I have taken on the role, I have encouraged them to play a more positive role, because if they want to improve their ties with the US, their policy toward Afghanistan must change, otherwise, the US and Pakistan relations will not improve.”
In the meeting held today, FM Qureshi has yet again reinstated Pakistan’s commitment to the Afghan peace process and its desire to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. It is evident that despite actively seeking out Pakistan’s support in reconciliation with the Taliban, the US and their representative believe that Islamabad has not been playing a “more positive role” and can still do more considering its “considerable influence over the Taliban leadership”. This trust deficit has always undermined US-Pakistan relations, despite Pakistan’s continued efforts to seek a political solution to the Afghan conflict.
Mina Jahangir with additional input by News Desk.