PM’s Efforts for Lasting Peace in Afghanistan Hailed Globally

By Dr. Saeed Ahmad Ali

LAHORE, Sep 18 (APP): The Commandments of Almighty Allah, regarding war and peace have been concisely described in the holy Quran, the supreme authority in Islam and a primary source of Islamic law that “Once the hostility of the enemy ceases, the Muslims must stop fighting (Quran 2:193; 8:39).

Similarly, the Holy Quran further commands, “If they incline to peace, do so and put your trust in God, even if they intend to deceive you, remember that God is sufficient for you.” (Quran 8:61-2).

Former American President George W. Bush, in September 11, 2001, while responding to attacks on the World Trade Centre, which killed around 3,000 people, had ordered an invasion of Afghanistan. The War in Afghanistan started since the invasion of US troops to Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, when the United States of America and its allies successfully ousted the Taliban regime, in order to finish Al-Qaeda’s operations and its existence.

After the removal of the Taliban government and their system, the US formed a coalition of over 40 countries. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members formed a security mission in the country called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Later, accomplishing various anti militant operations, NATO forces in January 2015, launched the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to equip, train, assist and advise Afghan security forces, agencies and institutions.

According to ISAF statistics document, currently, the numbers of its forces is around 17,000 troops from 39 NATO Allies and its partner countries. In the longer term, to maintain peace in the region, a traditional partnership with Afghanistan remains NATO’s goal, it says. During the long run war operation in Afghanistan, NATO forces and Taliban militant groups captured many persons as their prisoners.

Now, both sides are on the same page to establish a political set-up for broader peace in Afghanistan including exchange of their prisoners through holding meaningful talks.Under the US-Taliban deal which was inked in February 2020, the Afghan government was to release around 5000 Taliban prisoners while 1000 government coalition troops were to be released by Taliban.

These talks were scheduled for March 2020 earlier, but due to differences over prisoners’ exchange, were delayed. At the behest of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, both factions have come out in support of the Intra-Afghan Dialogue, continuing at Qatar’s capital Doha since last Saturday. 

This landmark dialogue speaks volumes about the PM Imran Khan’s tireless efforts to reach some conclusion. Prime Minister Imran Khan on September 11 has welcomed the start of much-awaited intra-Afghan talks aimed at ending the two-decades war in Afghanistan.

The US State Department in January 2020 in a statement had praised Prime Minister Imran Khan saying that he was one of the renowned world leaders who had engaged in an “off-ramp” diplomacy to defuse tensions between Iran and the United States.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan while talking to APP on Thursday said that the landmark Intra-Afghan dialogue between Afghan government and Taliban was a part of true efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who sought an end to the lingering conflict. Pakistan has been instrumental in playing its role for the talks between the Taliban and the US and then intra-Afghan talks, he added.

The outcome of the dialogue would help stabilise Afghanistan and the whole region through consensus, by pressing anti-violence measures to ensure that anarchy would never be returned to the country again, nor the soil of Afghanistan would be used by any terrorist outfits, he said.Sources in Foreign office told APP that the landmark direct-talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban amid fears and hopes had been started to bring peace in the whole region especially in Pakistan which was much affected due to the war.

They said that during the course of talks in Doha Pakistan has proposed four salient points which would help pave the way for ‘Afghan peace dialogue results,’ adding that the process would envisage a continued support to both Afghan-led and Afghan-owned processes. They have opined that the US had asked Pakistan to exercise its influence to press the warring Taliban for the “immediate” start of intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at ending Washington’s longest war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has proposed a four point strategy while attending the opening ceremony of historic Intra-Afghan talks through video link in Doha.

These proposed four points included that for a stable region it was compulsory to ensure full support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process while respecting the outcome of the consensus from intra-Afghan negotiations. The second point proposes that Afghanistan will neither witness the violent days of the past nor become a space for violent-elements who would harm others beyond its borders.

The third point is regarding deepening and sustaining economic engagement with Afghanistan for its reconstruction and economic development.Likewise, the fourth point describes that a well-resourced, time-bound return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour would be ensured.“We meet today to mark a historic occasion, when our Afghan brethren take a major step forward in their long quest for peace”, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at the outset of his video address.

It may be mentioned here that Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan Kuninori Matsuda in a recent statement has hailed the contribution of Pakistan in Afghan peace talks, including facilitating the US-Taliban Agreement.

“In order to realize an Afghan-led durable and comprehensive peace in the region, the Intra-Afghan Dialogue would make steady and constructive progress”, the Japanese diplomat said while expressing the hope.

Japan would continue to actively contribute to the peace and stability of Afghanistan in collaboration with the international community and was looking forward to working closely with Pakistan, he reiterated.

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Foreign Office Spokesperson’s Opening Statement for Weekly Press Briefing on 18 September 2020, Full Text