Urges quick release of prisoners, intiation of dialogue
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday that the Afghan peace process must be Afghan led and Afghan owned.
He addressed the media at the Foreign Office a day after traveling to Qatar for the signing of an agreement to end the years-long war in Afghanistan by the USA and Taliban.
We must have durable peace, Qureshi said, adding that the questions are how to achieve that and who will facilitate it. Afghans must decide, representatives of their various factions and leaders must sit together and create an environment of peace, he said.
“Afghanistan’s people want peace. It has been a long war and they’ve seen a lot of bloodshed and destruction. They will be able to take a breath of relief when peace comes.”
He urged the formation of an inclusive delegation, again raising questions of when it will be made and whether it will truly be inclusive. For example, he said the factions should demonstrate that they are willing to compromise.
He also asked whether the Taliban and its leaders would disavow their past communication with Al Qaeda and other organisations and whether that would be enough to satisfy the world.
One thing that was decided was that Afghanistan’s land will not be allowed to be used against anyone, not just the US and its allies, said Qureshi. He discussed the reduction in violence in Afghanistan in the past week and said US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told him that they estimate that they didn’t see this much of a reduction in violence in the past four years as they’ve seen in the past week.
The Taliban have showed their ability to make this happen, said Qureshi. Now this should continue and if it does, it’s going to create an environment for intra-Afghan dialogue, he said.
The Afghan leadership must sit together and create a political roadmap, he said. No one can decide their future for them, he said. “What kind of Afghanistan do they want to see?”
The people want peace, he said, so now it will be up to the leaders. He also said it depended on whether those deciding this will put the larger interests before their own.
Yesterday, Pakistan’s role as a facilitator for the Afghan peace process was acknowledged and praised, he said. People who previously pointed fingers at us were praising our role, he said, calling it a big change.
I met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after the meeting and discussed the role of spoilers, he said. “There were and are spoilers both within Afghanistan and outside it and you should keep an eye on them,” he said, adding that there must be a mechanism in place to identify and shame people playing this role.
He also discussed how the positive momentum generated via Saturday’s meeting should be maintained in the region’s interests. He said the prisoner release process must be begun quickly, as a means of building trust.
The intra-Afghan dialogue shouldn’t be delayed either, he said. The hope that has born should stay alive, he said. Yesterday held optical importance, he said.
The United States must also address political uncertainties, he said. We can’t address their internal issues and nor can we, said Qureshi, adding that they don’t want Afghanistan’s internal issues to affect regional peace and become a roadblock.The US can play an important role here, he said.
His fourth point of discussion with Pompeo was that international support must be mobilised to support post conflict Afghan reconstruction and the return of refugees. We want them to go home with dignity, he said.
He also met the foreign ministers of three Central Asian Republic countries–Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan–and discussed meeting and engaging on how they can benefit from peace in Afghanistan. He said he wants to discuss regional connectivity and how to increase it.