ISLAMABAD : Chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Dr Abdullah Abdullah on Tuesday thanked Pakistan for facilitating the Afghan peace process and the country’s efforts in ensuring the opportunity for dignified, durable and sustainable peace in the war-torn country.
“Pakistan has played an important role in facilitating this moment, and my delegation and I, thank you, the government and people of Pakistan for their efforts,” said Dr Abdullah in an address to the Institute for Strategic Studies in Islamabad.
The Afghan leader, who is in Islamabad for a three-day trip, emphasised that the start of negotiations between the Kabul and the Taliban movement is an “important opportunity”. He added, that as he was speaking in Pakistan, delegations from both the sides were in Doha “sitting around a table discussing ways and means of ending the decades of conflict through a political settlement in Afghanistan”.
The chairman for the reconciliation council urged that there is a “need to go beyond the usual stale rhetoric and shadowy conspiracy theories”.
“We cannot afford to pursue business as usual. We need fresh approaches that our people demand from us. It is more urgent than ever to look to our region as one region,” observed Dr Abdullah.
“We also need to draw necessary lessons of our gains and losses, threats and opportunities,” said Dr Abdullah. He added that there was also a need to look at the where “we could have been today if we would have aimed for stronger cooperation, reduced tensions, promoted moderation, increased regional connectivity.
The visiting Afghan dignitary said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are facing a “series of common threats including various shades of terrorism, extremism and intolerance”. He added that the “current geo political contest of the region” has also opened up new windows of opportunities.
“The time is now for both nations, to make a further detour, define a new vison, address outstanding issues as well as our shared interest, [and] realise that peace and stability in Afghanistan or any country in our south and central Asian geography [will] have a far reaching ripple effect,” said Dr Abdullah.
Dr Abdullah, while shedding light on his role, said that his job was to build consensus and “manage the collective efforts” for a just, inclusive and honourable end to the conflict and seek a political settlement.
“This transformed nation also wants to preserve its core accomplishments including the rights and liberties of all men and women of all communities and groups in Afghanistan,” said Dr Adbullah. He also assured the gathering that the country in the ongoing talks does not want any terrorist footprint in the country or allow any entity to “pose a threat to another nation”.
Dr Adbullah agreed that the “current talks offer the best hope” and that patience was key for “dignified, durable and sustainable peace “
Earlier, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Dr Abdullah understood the “ground realities, the challenges, the strengths, weaknesses and compulsions”. He added that his current position as chairman of the reconciliation council was the “most challenging job of his career”.
“I wish him well. Because in his success lies my success. So, it is important that we see eye to eye. It is important that we engage, we connect, and we exchange views frankly, honestly and in a candid manner,” said foreign minister Qureshi.
The foreign minister also said that to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table “was not easy but it happened”. He added that where the peace process had arrived did not happen overnight and the “convergence” had evolved with time.
The foreign minister said that today the Afghan peace process had “regional support”, adding that it cannot move forward without it.
“There is a greater realisation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that if we want a prosperous future for ourselves, we need peace and that realisation is dawning on us — on you [Dr Abdullah], me, and our nations, and that’s the positive thing I see,” said Qureshi.
The foreign minister emphasised that the realisation has “evolved over the years”, adding that the country’s calls to all stakeholders to realise there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict have finally been heard.
The foreign minister, once again, emphasised that there will be “spoilers” and warned the Afghan leader that there was a need to keep an eye on them.
He reminded him that “there are many who have benefited from the war economy” but the “overwhelming majority” felt that the peace process was the “right way forward”.
Qureshi also said that Pakistan feels that “Afghans and only Afghans can determine the future of Afghanistan”.
“Sustainable peace can come from within Afghanistan, it cannot be imposed on Afghanistan,” said Qureshi