Pakistan, US to Remain Engaged for Peace in Afghanistan

  • Date of Publication : 4/07/2018 at 09:56 GMT

Pakistan and the United States on Tuesday agreed to remain engaged for peace in Afghanistan.

This was agreed during a meeting between US Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Alice Wells and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa at the General Headquarters in Islamabad.

“Both reaffirmed the commitment towards the common goal of peace and stability in the region and discussed measures towards that end. Both also agreed on continued engagement at multiple levels,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement.

Wells was on a three-day visit to Pakistan to again seek Pakistani authorities’ help for the Afghan peace process. She met Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa and Chief of the General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar.

She also met business leaders and ambassadors from other embassies in Islamabad.

During her visit to Kabul, which preceded the Islamabad trip, Wells said Taliban’s refusal to join the political process was “unacceptable”. She had further accused the “Taliban ….who are not residing in Afghanistan” of being obstacle to the peace talks. She was apparently referring to Pakistan-based Taliban against whom the US has long asked for action.

The report said that during her meetings, she reminded her interlocutors of Pakistan’s commitment to take action against all terrorist groups that might be found on its territory.

“Ambassador Wells discussed Pakistan’s stated commitment to eliminating all terrorist groups present within its borders,” the US embassy said in an apparent reference to the Taliban elements claimed to be present in Pakistan.

Before this, Wells said Pakistan needs to do more on Taliban and take decisive action, Pakistan’s Express Tribune reported on Monday.

Wells, who is due to hold talks in Pakistan on Monday, said Islamabad needed to do more to squeeze the Taliban and get them to the negotiating table.

“Pakistan has an important role to play… but we have not yet seen that sustained and decisive action on the part of Islamabad,” she said.

“It’s going to be very hard for us to achieve our objectives… if Pakistan isn’t working with us.”

Wells made the remarks during a visit to Kabul on Saturday, two weeks after an unprecedented ceasefire triggered spontaneous street celebrations involving Taliban fighters and security forces, the report said.

“I think it (the ceasefire reaction) creates this impulse for everyone to renew their efforts to find a negotiated political solution,” Wells told reporters in remarks embargoed until Sunday.

“Increasingly I think it’s becoming simply unacceptable for the Taliban not to negotiate.”
The Taliban have so far ignored President Ashraf Ghani’s offer of peace negotiations. Instead, they have insisted on direct talks with the United States, which Washington has repeatedly refused.

Wells visited Kabul on Saturday and Sunday and met with Afghan officials and international partners.

In a press release issued by the US Embassy in Kabul, Wells underscored continued US support for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process and the need for an honorable and dignified path to ending the conflict.

Her discussions also focused on the importance of holding timely, credible, and transparent parliamentary and presidential elections and ensuring Afghan citizens can safely cast their votes, the statement read.

During her visit, Wells met with President Ashraf Ghani, CEO Abdullah Abdullah, acting foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani, National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar, High Peace Council Chairman Karim Khalili, members of the Independent Election Commission, and other Afghan leaders.

Wells also met with international partners to discuss ongoing US and international community support for efforts to promote long-term peace, security, and stability in Afghanistan and the region.