ISLAMABAD: Pakistan believes that there is no military solution to Afghan war and only a political solution, fully cognizant of and responsive to the hardcore socio-cultural, political and economic realities of Afghanistan, can restore peace in the country. “We must admit that it remains a difficult goal to achieve because it demands flexibility from all sides, especially on the hardened positions and stances and a willingness to negotiate without pre-conditions, so that new ideas and peace efforts could find greater space to emerge and steer the Afghan peace process,” said Muhemmed Aejaz, Assistant Secretary of Afghanistan Foreign Office while speaking at the Moscow Format Consultations.
The Foreign Office released the Pakistan diplomat’s full statement. The Moscow Format which is being represented by several countries including Pakistan, Russia, Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban, China, India, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The Taliban delegation included top political envoy Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai and his deputy, Abdul Salam Hanafi, both from the Taliban’s political office in Doha, the Qatari capital.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov remarked, “Russia stands for preserving the one and undivided Afghanistan, in which all of the ethnic groups that inhabit this country would live side by side peacefully and happily, while sitting between a five-man Taliban delegation and four members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a government-appointed body charged with overseeing the peace process.
“Russia, as the organizer of this session, sees its role in working together with Afghanistan’s regional partners and friends who have gathered at this table today to extend all possible assistance to facilitate the start of a constructive intra-Afghan dialogue,” he added. India also for the first time sat at the same table facing the Afghan Taliban, a move which is being given great importance.
The Pakistani diplomat added that over the years, Islamabad has also kept reminding about the futility of wasting precious human, capital and material resources by following a kinetic or military intensive approach. “As a point of satisfaction to Pakistan, these principles have now been accepted more or less universally as guidelines to end the Afghan conflict”.
For the last four decades, through various international forums, Pakistan has strongly and consistently underscored the need to give peace and reconciliation a fair chance in Afghanistan, through initiatives that are acceptable to our Afghan brothers and sisters. This has greatly helped in building a broader international consensus for making joint efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
“Hence as a point of satisfaction for us, many of Pakistan’s positions on important issues in Afghanistan have now been adopted as ‘shared objectives’ by the international community. This is because our approach has evolved out of the hard-earned experience of continually dealing with the challenging ground realities in Afghanistan during past four decades”, he added.
Mohammad Ejaz said that Pakistan suggests that participants in these discussions, besides touching upon other issues, should also ponder over the core question as ‘How peace is actually going to be achieved in Afghanistan?’
“An intra-Afghan agreement on ending the conflict and initiating meaningful reconciliation can lay the foundation for a peace process to take shape, around which regional and international guarantees and support could ultimately coalesce to form a long-term sustainable solution”, he said.
Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship is unique, and unlike any other. Pakistan’s desire to see complete peace and stability in Afghanistan emanates from a number of factors including its unique geographic position and border with Afghanistan; the heavy price we have paid due to unabated conflict in the country for 40 years; the resultant security concerns and a realisation that peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan is critical for Pakistan’s own stability and progress.
“The time has come where all stakeholders should directly and clearly engage to understand one another’s positions and concerns for making such discussions purposeful. We are confident that with these objectives in mind, today’s meeting will be an important step towards charting our future course for ending the conflict and ensuring long-term peace and prosperity for the people of Afghanistan, and the region beyond”, the diplomat added.