Islamabad: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in his meeting with a US special envoy on Wednesday said that peace and reconciliation in neighbouring Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interest.
The Pakistani premier met US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad who arrived in the country within a day of US President Donald Trump’s letter to Khan seeking Pakistan’s assistance to persuade the Afghan Taliban to join the Afghan peace process.
The US special envoy also held meetings with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and other officials during his two-day visit to discuss a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict.
Sources told Gulf News that the fact that Khalilzad was received by Khan before leaving Pakistan indicated some progress. However, it is not yet clear if the four-member Taliban delegation from the Qatar office had endorsed the formula being floated by both sides for a durable and agreeable settlement of the Afghan conflict.
Washington urges Islamabad to play a key role in facilitating talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban. However, Pakistan has often clarified its limited influence over the latter.
Pakistan believes that reconciliation is the only solution towards peace, Khan said in his meeting with the US special envoy. Recalling his long personal commitment to the cause of peace in the region, the premier welcomed Trump’s letter and the US assurance to work with Pakistan on the shared objective. He also emphasised the importance of dialogue on both sides along with cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, education and health.
The visiting US official, tasked with finding an end to Afghanistan’s 17-year-old war, held detailed meetings with Pakistani Foreign Office officials on the Afghan reconciliation process.
Qureshi assured the US diplomat of Pakistan’s support for a peaceful settlement in a meeting on Tuesday.
“Pakistan will sincerely continue to cooperate for political settlement in Afghanistan, because peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interest,” the Foreign Minister said.
Khalilzad during his December 2–22 visit will also travel to Afghanistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belgium, the UAE and Qatar in stepped-up efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict.