ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Saturday reaffirmed Pakistan’s firm commitment to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
In his opening remarks at the third meeting of the Quadrilateral Contact Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China on Afghan reconciliation process in Islamabad on Saturday, the adviser reaffirmed that for Pakistan, peace in Afghanistan is very important for regional peace and stability.
“We firmly believe that a politically negotiated settlement through an all inclusive intra-Afghan reconciliation process will contribute towards accomplishing our shared goal of lasting peace in Afghanistan. Towards this end, Pakistan has been engaged in serious and consistent efforts to facilitate an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process,” he said.
The advisor said that Pakistan deeply appreciates the commitment as well as efforts of the Afghan national unity government for promoting durable peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through political settlement.
“We also commend the constructive role of the United States and China for facilitating the peace process,” Sartaj Aziz said.
Sartaj Aziz said that this Quadrilateral process which we had agreed to establish on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference last December is a manifestation of our shared commitment to undertake joint efforts for realizing the goal of reducing violence and achieving long term peace and stability in Afghanistan, and our region.
The advisor said that it is really encouraging that the Group has made steady progress in its first two meetings, demonstrating clarity as well as seriousness of purpose. In the Kabul meeting on January 16, 2016, the QCG’s call on the Taliban groups to enter into early talks with the Afghan government without preconditions is a reiteration of a strong message by the international community for peace talks in order to find a basis for enduring political settlement in Afghanistan.
Sartaj Aziz said that he is hopeful that continuing with this spirit and resolve, the Group will now focus on the early adoption of a roadmap for the reconciliation process and identify the way forward for holding direct peace talks between the representatives of the government of Afghanistan and Taliban groups as early as possible.
The foreign affairs advisor also emphasized that Pakistan fully shares Afghanistan’s concern that increasing violence is a key challenge, and its reduction should be an important objective of peace talks. He said that for decades, people of Afghanistan have suffered from an unending cycle of violence. They need lasting peace and stability. Therefore, QCG works towards advancing political reconciliation in Afghanistan is of crucial importance.
“We are confident that the process would lead to a significant reduction of violence.”
The advisor said that in our view, a clear, well-defined and actionable roadmap for the peace process between the Afghan government and Taliban groups is important. It should identify and stipulate various stages of the process while measuring the progress being made at each stage. It should also serve to convey positive signals about unflinching commitment of the parties to the peace process.
“We will also need to focus on proper sequencing of the measures in the peace process, timely joint decisions and actions on key issues, and effective coordination among the QCG countries, as the reconciliation process moves forward and delivers the desired outcome. I am hopeful that in today’s deliberations you will be able to finalize and adopt the roadmap.”
As regards the peace process, he added, we believe our collective efforts at this stage including through supportive confidence building measures (CBMs) have to be aimed at persuading maximum number of Taliban groups to join the peace talks. This will contribute to imparting a momentum to the process offering incentive of political mainstreaming to the insurgent groups, and gradually shrink the space for the irreconcilables.
Sartaj Aziz said that this quadrilateral framework is based on our mutual consensus that political reconciliation is the most viable option for promoting long term peace and stability in Afghanistan. Therefore, we have to exert all our efforts and energies on keeping the process on track. He said that persistence and perseverance will be required for guarding against the impediments, avoiding a situation like that witnessed in July last year.