Gilani wants Afghan rebels to join peace processBy Qaisar Yosufzai Feb 24, 2012 - 14:59
ISLAMABAD (PAN): In response to President Hamid Karzai’s call, Pakistan on Friday urged the Taliban and other insurgent groups to join a peace process initiated by the Afghan government.
The Pakistani prime minister said: “I would like to appeal to the Taliban leadership as well as other Afghan groups, including Hizb-i-Islami, to take part in the intra-Afghan process for national reconciliation.”
A statement from the Prime Minister’s House quoted Yusuf Raza Gilani as saying: “Now is the time to turn a new leaf and open a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan… to build peace and bring prosperity to the country.”
“Pakistan wishes to have the best of relations with Afghanistan. Stability, peace and national reconciliation there is indeed critical for regional peace and stability,” Gilani remarked.
It was in this context that Pakistan had been supportive of efforts to promote reconciliation and development in the neighbouring country, he added.
“Pakistan has always held that there is no military solution to the problems of Afghanistan. We have also stated that it is important to create conditions conducive for a grand intra-Afghan settlement…” the statement continued.
Gilani hoped the Taliban, Hizb-e-Islami and other Afghan leaders would respond positively to his appeal and agree to enter direct negotiations in the framework of an intra-Afghan process for reconciliation.
On February 21, President Karzai invited Taliban leaders to enter direct negotiations with his administration on ending the decade-long conflict.
Since peace was the most important aspiration of the Afghan nation, his government would continue to prioritise efforts at stabilising the country through the reconciliation programme, the president said.
He also underlined the need for whole-hearted international support for the Afghan-owned peace project. With the country’s stability in mind, the president said he had agreed to the opening of Taliban’s political office in Qatar, he added.
“On behalf of the Afghan people and government, I thank Pakistan for lending its support to our peace endeavours. I would once again stress the importance of Pakistan’s role in this regard,” he remarked.
Also on Friday, Pakistan condemned in the strongest of terms the burning of the Qurans at the Bagram airbase, saying that it was important that such irresponsible and reprehensible things did not recur.