Pakistan urges Afghan parties to seize critical opening for peace in Afghanistan

A senior Pakistani diplomat has urged Afghan parties and the world community to seize the opportunity presented by the recent moves towards reconciliation in Afghanistan to help promote durable peace in the war-torn country, saying Pakistan would assist the process.

“While the onus for seizing the moment rests on the parties directly involved in the Afghan conflict, Pakistan, for its part, will continue to do what it can to support all efforts to launch a credible peace process,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative to the UN, told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

Speaking in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan, she said the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr had seen scenes of reconciliation between those who for years had fought a bloody war.

“The comprehensive observance of the ceasefire by the Taliban also demonstrated that its leadership has control of the movement and is cohesive enough to negotiate a political settlement,” the Pakistani envoy pointed out.

Pakistan, she said, had all along advocated for a negotiated settlement, which was the only viable solution to end the conflict.

In that regard, Ambassador Lodhi welcomed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to talk to the Taliban without preconditions and the US support for a negotiated settlement.

“The ceasefire earlier this month has demonstrated that negotiations are not only possible but can produce a positive outcome,” she said.

“The opportunity that has opened up by recent developments must now be seized and translated into serious and sustained efforts to promote a political settlement and durable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” the Pakistani envoy told the 15-member Council.

Opening the debate, the UN envoy to Afghanistan also spoke about the “unprecedented opportunities” to seek peace and consolidate the country’s political foundation.