4-way talks resume, Aziz warns against preconditions
KABUL (Pajhwok): Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said the quadrilateral coordination committee meeting that commenced in Islamabad on Tuesday was focused on chalking out a viable framework for reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
In his opening remarks, Aziz said the first and foremost task at the hands of quadrilateral committee was to define the overall direction of the peace process.
Aziz said the peace process was aimed to create a conducive environment for holding direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban by offering them incentives that could persuade them to drop weapons.
He said politically negotiated peace settlement was the only viable option for lasting peace in Afghanistan.
“Course of action to be adopted should be flexible and must not be tied to any deadlines,” he said, adding that positive public messaging was crucial to the success of peace talks.
He stressed it was important not to attach pre-conditions to the start of negotiation process; threat of use of force against resurging Taliban could not persuade them to negotiate.
He expressed high hopes that the quadrilateral meetings would have constructive and meaningful outcomes and reaffirmed that Pakistan will put all necessary efforts to facilitate the peace process including intelligence sharing and enhancing security and terrorism cooperation.
The first meeting of the quadrilateral coordination committee brought together top diplomats of four nations (Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and United States) to sit down to explore options to bring the mired Afghan peace process back on track which came to an abrupt halt last year.
The prominent attendees include Pakistan’s Secretary Foreign Affairs Aizaz Ahmed, Afghan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai and special representatives of China and the United States.
In July last year, Pakistan managed to get the two parties of Afghan civil-war to the negotiating table after a series of failed attempts.
In first round of talks, held from July 7 to 8 in Pakistan’s city Murree, officials of Afghan government and Taliban representatives came face to face to discuss the possibility of a political settlement.
Other stakeholders present at the talks included representatives from China and the United States.
Washington lauded Pakistan’s role for arranging these historic talks and expressed hope that the reconciliation process will bring stability to the region and Secretary General United Nations also appreciated the initiative.
However the optimism was short lived as the second round of talks - scheduled for July 31- was suspended when the news of Taliban Commander Mullah Omar’s death broke just two days before the scheduled talks.
The talks were never resumed as new Taliban leadership took over with Mullah Akhtar Mansour as their new commander.
President Ghani’s administration has been keen on finding a sustainable political settlement for the war-prone region and has been urging Pakistan to play a more vital role: however Pakistani officials have reiterated that “It is an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace initiative”, and Pakistan will only facilitate the process.
The meeting is deemed as highly important regarding peace process in Afghanistan. Afghan officials claimed that Pakistan will present a list of Taliban willing to negotiate with Kabul.
The high-level talks aim to devise a mechanism to bring Taliban back to the negotiating table to come up with a political settlement for the region.
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