Zakhelwal optimistic about peace negotiations
“As a special representative of the president, I am authorised and responsible for improved ties with Pakistan,” Zakhelwal told Pajhwok Afghan News during an exclusive interview.
Pakistani leaders are now convinced that their national interest is linked to a stable Afghanistan, he says of the three recent quadrilateral meetings in Islamabad and Kabul.
The last meeting involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China was held in Islamabad on Feb. 6 to finalise a roadmap to reconciliation talks between Kabul and Taliban representatives.
“Even if the ongoing quest for peace fails, we should not lose all hope; we should continue our efforts,” he believes, saying future will tell the level of Pakistan’s sincerity in peace in Afghanistan.
About the roadmap for peace, he says it is based on regulations and commitments of the four nations and will pave the way for direct talks with the insurgents.
“There is need for patience for lasting peace,” the diplomat reiterates, explaining the process is long and complicated.
Asked about the ambitious CASA-1000 power project, he says the scheme is ready for execution and contractor are expected to begin their work in the next few months.
If security threats are addressed, CASA-1000 will be implemented in the next two years. Under the plan, electricity will be supplied from Central Asia to Pakistan via Afghanistan. Currently in urgent need of energy, Pakistan will benefit from the execution of the project, he maintains.
In the next meetings with Pakistani officials, he will discuss enforcement of the transit agreement between the countries.
Of the $45 billion economic corridor project between Pakistan and China, he says the route between Gwadar port and China will also benefit Afghanistan. Beijing wants to connect with Central Asia through Afghanistan.
About harassment of Afghan diplomats in Pakistan, the ambassador says he has not yet received such complaints. However, he has been informed of the ill-treatment of Afghan refugees, an issue he will take up with Pakistani officials.
Dr. Zakhelwal is also aware of problems of Afghan students in Pakistan. He promises urgent steps to resolve the issue on a priority basis.
The Afghan embassy plans to hire a competent lawyer to argue the cases of thousands of Afghan prisoners in in Pakistan jails,. The envoy will officially ask for the release of the Afghans.
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