Three-day moot spanning July 17-19 will be attended by senior Afghan leaders, but will not include representatives of the Taliban, says Foreign Office spokesperson
Pakistan will host a three-day Afghan Peace Conference from tomorrow (Saturday), announced Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, adding that any rumors about its postponement were “baseless.”
Addressing a weekly press briefing in Islamabad, he said that the conference aimed to provide momentum to ongoing global efforts for peace in Afghanistan. He said several Afghan leaders had confirmed their participation in the moot, but clarified that no representatives of the Afghan Taliban had been invited to attend.
“They [Taliban] have visited Pakistan many times and we’ve had detailed discussions with them on the Afghan peace process. The aim of the forthcoming peace conference is to engage with and consult all sides on the Afghan peace process,” said Chaudhri.
The spokesperson reiterated that Pakistan had always supported an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan. “We have no favorites in Afghanistan and we stand with the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
During the briefing, Chaudhri reaffirmed Pakistan’s concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. “As the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is nearing completion, we remain concerned at the evolving security situation [there],” he said, adding that while Pakistan had played an important role in the peace process and was committed to facilitating it in future, it was ultimately up to the Afghans to decide their own future.
“At this critical juncture, all Afghan stakeholders must work out an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said. He also stressed that Pakistan wanted meaningful global engagement for the reconstruction and economic development of post-conflict Afghanistan, which was vital for sustainable peace and stability. “We also believe that a peaceful settlement of the Afghan dispute should also lead to a dignified and time-bound return of Afghan refugees,” he said.
The Foreign Office spokesperson summarized all the reasons Pakistan desired peace in Afghanistan, noting that any security concerns there had a direct impact on the security situation in Pakistan. Noting that Islamabad had already shared evidence of India using Afghan soil for state sponsored terrorism against Pakistan, he reiterated that a potential influx of Afghan refugees was also very concerned. “We are not in a position to cater to further influx of Afghan refugees,” he said.
India and Kashmir
On India, Chaudhri recalled that Pakistan had, once again, “presented clear evidence of India’s financial and material support of terrorist activities” following a terror attack in Lahore that authorities have blamed on India’s intelligence agency. “We have pointed out in the past as well that India has been actively aiding and abetting terrorism to destabilize Pakistan and imperil regional peace,” he said.
“We call upon India to eschew the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy, dismantle its terror infrastructure against Pakistan, arrest the perpetrators of the Lahore attack and bring them to justice without any delay,” he said.
On India-held Kashmir, Chaudhri reiterated Pakistan’s calls to the international community to investigate the ongoing extra-judicial killings of Kashmiris by Indian forces. He said the perpetrators of these heinous crimes must be brought to justice.