ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad held a meeting on the Afghanistan peace process, wherein they agreed that there was a “need to overcome the difficulties to find an enduring political solution to the Afghan conflict”.
Welcoming Khalilzad, the PM reiterated Pakistan’s steadfast and sincere support to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process launched since last year.
The prime minister stressed that it was important for all sides to take practical steps for the reduction of violence in Afghanistan.
He underscored that it was “equally important to guard against the negative narratives and efforts by any quarter to undermine the progress made so far through painstaking efforts”.
“Achieving sustainable peace and security and ensuring long-term development, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region was in Pakistan’s best national interest,” he stressed.
On Sunday, Khalilzad met with top Afghan officials including President Ashraf Ghani.
“The aim of his visit is clear, to report to President Ghani on his recent visits and meetings in some countries regarding the Afghan peace process,” an official in Ghani’s office said.
This is Khalilzad’s second visit to Pakistan in a month. He visited Islamabad earlier this month and held a meeting with the Afghan delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Khalilzad’s latest trip to the region that also took him to Kabul and Moscow has raised hopes for the resumption of Afghan peace talks.
Talks with the Taliban on a plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan in exchange for Taliban security guarantees were halted by Trump last month following the death of a US soldier and 11 other people in a Taliban bomb attack in Kabul.
Khalilzad’s trip is the first since US President Donald Trump called off the talks six weeks ago, amid growing criticism from the US Congress and other politicians on signing a deal with the militants which entailed the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
In return, the Taliban pledged not to allow Afghan soil to be used against any country’s interests.
It follows his meeting with Taliban delegates in Pakistan three weeks ago and his discussions with regional leaders and NATO representatives in Brussels in recent days on the resumption of talks with the militants who have insisted on a total pullout of US troops.