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Facilitation in reconciliation: UN praises Pakistan’s role for Afghan peace

Facilitation in reconciliation: UN praises Pakistan’s role for Afghan peace

ISLAMABAD: The ongoing overt and covert efforts for peace in Afghanistan have rekindled hopes for the Afghans who have been oscillating between hope and despair for decades. The ultraorthodox Taliban militia has agreed, though not publicly, to engage with the administration of President Ashraf Ghani – thanks to ‘facilitation’ by Pakistan.

The United Nations on Friday appreciated Pakistan’s ‘positive role’ in facilitating reconciliation in Afghanistan and expressed hope that the renewed push for peace talks would pave the way for long-term stability in the war-ravaged country.

Peace in Afghanistan was the major talking point during talks between UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Afghanistan Nicholas Haysom and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad on Friday.

Aziz welcomed renewed prospects of an intra-Afghan reconciliation and reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to facilitate the process in all manners possible, reads a statement issued by the Foreign Office after the meeting.

Afghanistan’s top leadership recently acknowledged that Pakistan has been playing a positive role in persuading the Afghan Taliban to start peace talks.

Haysom too acknowledged Pakistan’s pivotal role in peace and stability in Afghanistan and expressed satisfaction that Islamabad and Kabul were deepening cooperation across a broad range of areas, including peace and security, and trade. Haysom and Aziz exchanged views on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and the positive trajectory of its relations with Pakistan.

Aziz informed the UN chief’s envoy about the ‘qualitative transformation’ of bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan with a special emphasis on political engagement, security and counter-terrorism cooperation, trade and commercial interaction, and regional cooperation, according to the statement.

Haysom also met Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Muhammad Alam Khattak to discuss Pakistan’s role as a stabilising force in the region. Both sides agreed that after the drawdown of foreign troops from Afghanistan, Kabul and Islamabad would have to chart a way forward to collectively counter the menace of terrorism and that this means Pakistan’s role carries significant importance.

Lt Gen Khattak briefed the visiting delegate on Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan Agency and other efforts by Islamabad to counter the threat of terror, and highlighted the sacrifices of the people and armed forces of Pakistan in this regard.

He stressed that Pakistan was fighting terrorism through a comprehensive strategy and expressed the desire for a consolidated regional effort from all stakeholders to overcome this scourge. As a result of the operation, the challenge of displaced persons is taking the toll on Pakistan’s economy, he added. “However, the Pakistan government is fully committed to rehabilitating them in a befitting manner.”

 Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2015.

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