Shah Mahmood Qureshi meeting with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi meeting with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation in Islamabad on July 1, 2020. Image Credit: Pakistan Foreign Office

Islamabad: US Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad held talks with Pakistan’s Army Chief and Foreign Minister in Islamabad to discuss the advancement of the Afghan peace process and Pak-US cooperation for stability in the region.

Khalilzad expressed gratitude to Pakistani officials for their continuing efforts to advance the peace process at a critical time when key Afghan stakeholders are close to “starting intra-Afghan negotiations” – key to regional stability and development.

Khalilzad also expressed condolences on the loss of lives in the terrorists attack on Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi and extended US support.

Meeting with FM Qureshi

The US envoy’s visit to Pakistan is part of regular engagement for exchange of views on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, the Foreign Office said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his meeting with the US envoy emphasised Pakistan’s positive contribution to the US-Taliban direct talks culminating in the Peace Agreement of 29 February 2020. “Afghan leaders should seize this historic opportunity and work together to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement,” FM Qureshi said.

The meeting held on July 1 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also attended by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq, and other senior officials.

Pakistan welcomes development in Afghanistan

Pakistan has the highest stake in Afghan peace deal as “peaceful and stable Afghanistan is important for peace and stability in the region and beyond”, he said.

Foreign Minister Qureshi highly welcomed the latest developments including announcements on the formation of negotiating team and establishment of High Council of National Reconciliation and hoped that the release of prisoners would accelerate intra-Afghan negotiations. He also cautioned that it was important to not let the spoilers undermine or derail the peace process.

Citing Pakistan’s 40 years of hospitality to the Afghan refugees, Qureshi urged the international community for a time-bound and well-resourced roadmap for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour.

Pakistan’s pivotal role in Afghanistan

On June 9, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa made an unannounced visit to Kabul to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the way forward in intra-Afghan negotiations. His visit along with Lt. General Faiz Hameed, the head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and Pakistan’s envoy Sadiq Khan, sent a powerful message signifying Pakistan’s pivotal role in renewal of peace talks in the neighbouring country.

Economic development discussed

Khalilzad was accompanied by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler who discussed investment opportunities with Pakistan’s Commerce Advisor Abdul Razak Dawood to strengthen economy.

Pakistani officials showed willingness to facilitate closer Pakistan-Afghanistan economic partnership and regional connectivity projects. Last month, Pakistan opened three trade routes with neighbouring Afghanistan – Chaman, Torkham and Ghulam Khan terminal. On July 2, Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq announced the opening of two more border crossings - Angor Adda and Kharlachi - for transit trade and exports to Afghanistan.