Pakistan calls on Afghan parties to seize opportunity for peace

New York, 27 June, 2018

Pakistan told the UN Security Council that prospects for peace and reconciliation have brightened in Afghanistan as a result of recent developments.

“A three-day ceasefire between Afghan security forces and the Taliban on Eid ul Fitr, resulted in an unprecedented pause in a war that has raged for almost 17 years”, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi said while speaking in the Security Council’s quarterly debate on Afghanistan, adding that even if the ceasefire lasted a few days it marked a “moment of hope and opportunity.”

The comprehensive observance of the ceasefire by the Taliban, she asserted, also demonstrated that its leadership has control of the movement and is cohesive enough to negotiate a political settlement.

The opportunity that has opened up by these developments must now be seized, she declared, and translated into serious and sustained efforts to promote a political settlement and durable peace in Afghanistan.

She reminded the 15-member Council that over the years, Pakistan has consistently advocated that a negotiated settlement is the only viable solution to the decades of conflict and suffering in Afghanistan, she said.

Noting that both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the US Secretary of State have indicated that foreign forces can be a topic of negotiations in any talks with the Taliban, Ambassador Lodhi said that this could open the door for a real dialogue.

Pointing out that almost 17 years of war, waged by the world’s most powerful military forces have not yielded a military solution, the Pakistani envoy asserted that only a negotiated political solution could deliver peace and security.

Ambassador Lodhi said that the path to peace in Afghanistan was arduous but achievable, but as a first step, all the parties concerned must commit themselves to a negotiated solution to the conflict.

“This offers the best chance to end the suffering of the Afghan people and restore peace to Afghanistan and stability to the region”, she added.

She expressed the hope that the search for peace through a dialogue process would assume the highest priority for the Afghan Government, for the Taliban, for the Coalition forces, for Afghanistan’s neighbors and for the international community.

A negotiated peace and national reconciliation, she stressed, is all the more vital to prevent the threat posed to Afghanistan, its neighbors and the global community by the presence of Daesh and a conglomerate of terrorists, which includes Al Qaeda and the Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan.

“They need to be defeated urgently and decisively", she asserted, and added, "We must not allow these groups to drive Afghanistan into another vortex of violence and instability, which would compound the threat to the region’s security”.

She reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment and support to a peace process for a political settlement, emphasizing that Pakistan has participated in all regional and international forums on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan including the Moscow format.

She told the 15-member Council that Pakistan would support any format that would bring all directly engaged parties together for a negotiated peace in Afghanistan.

However the Quadrilateral Coordination Group consisting of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and the US, remains a useful format to pursue a negotiated settlement, she said.

Pakistan, Ambassador Lodhi said, has extended all assistance at the political level, as well as through robust counter terrorism operations, to help promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The recently concluded Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) will provide a structured platform for engagement between our two countries in all spheres, political, economic and military.

Recent exchanges between Islamabad and Kabul have also helped to create an environment of trust and inject a positive impetus to bilateral relations.