Pakistan welcomes start of second round of Afghan peace talks

Pakistan on Wednesday night welcomed the start of the second round of intra-Afghan negotiations and said the two teams have made significant progress to date.

In a statement issued by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Islamabad said: “The year 2020 witnessed substantial progress towards peace in Afghanistan, with a number of positive developments including conclusion of US-Taliban Peace Agreement on 29 February 2020, start of intra-Afghan Negotiations on 12 September 2020, and agreement on Rules and Procedures on 2 December 2020, which paved the way for meaningful progress in the peace talks.”

Islamabad stated that Pakistan remains “hopeful that the year 2021 will witness the dawn of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”

The ministry of foreign affairs said Pakistan hopes the two negotiating teams will continue to engage with an open mind and will observe patience, prudence and perseverance to seize this historic opportunity for peace.

“We call upon both sides to remain constructively engaged and show flexibility in the negotiations for reaching an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement which would lead to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” the statement read.

According to the statement: “Pakistan, on its part, would continue to extend all possible support for the Afghan peace process.”

However, the foreign ministry noted that the high level of violence in Afghanistan “remains a matter of concern. Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly called on all sides to take measures for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire. We are hopeful that the two sides will prioritize working out a road-map for a reduction in violence and ceasefire in the negotiations.”

Pakistan’s statement came just hours after the Afghan Republic’s negotiating team and the Taliban’s team officially resumed talks after a three-week break.

This next round of talks will see the two sides discuss the agenda and, according to sources, hopefully, a ceasefire.