Pak in diplomatic push to salvage Afghan peace deal

ISLAMABAD, Sept. 8, 2019 (Xinhua) — Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L), Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (C) and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani meet the press after the 3rd China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, Sept. 7, 2019. (Xinhua/Liu Tian/IANS)

Islamabad, Sep 13 (IANS) Pakistan has begun diplomatic efforts to bring the now suspended Afghan peace talks back on track, fearing that an absence of negotiated settlement of the 18-year-long conflict would trigger a new phase of civil war.

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump cancel a “secret” meeting with his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani and Taliban leaders after the militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Kabul last week that killed 11 people including an American soldier, The Express Tribune reported.

Trump also called off the Afghan peace talks, which both the US and the Taliban earlier said almost paved the way for a deal. In fact, a draft agreement had already been reached between the two sides.

But with the sudden cancellation of talks at Camp David, the entire process had now collapsed.

Pakistan, which had facilitated the nine rounds of talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban, was concerned about the stalemate and now quietly began efforts to rescue the faltering peace deal.

Two informed senior officials told The Express Tribune that Pakistan was in touch with all “stakeholders” to find a way out of the current impasse.

The officials said relevant authorities were currently engaged with the US as well as Qatar, which hosted the Taliban’s political office, to help revive the peace process.

Pakistan was believed to be using its “leverage” to convince the Taliban for reducing violence in Afghanistan.

“We have been urging all sides to show restraint. If there is no possibility of a ceasefire at this stage, all sides at least can work towards reducing the level of violence,” the officials added.

At the weekly news briefing on Thursday, Pakistan Foreign Office spokespersonMuhammad Faisal said Islamabad wanted all sides to “exercise restraint and refrain from violence”.

“We have encouraged and facilitated the Afghan peace process in good faith and as a shared responsibility,” Faisal said.

The spokesperson also reiterated Pakistan’s stance that the only solution to the Afghan conflict lied in a politically negotiated settlement led and owned by the Afghans themselves.

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