Political reconciliation most viable option for long term peace in Afghanistan: Sartaj

Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, on Saturday asserted that political reconciliation is the most viable option for promoting long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan, for which participating countries must exert all efforts to keep the peace process on track.
Aziz presided over the third meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) established in December last year as part of a renewed push for reviving the peace process in Afghanistan.
“The people of Afghanistan have been suffering from an unending cycle of violence for decades. They need lasting peace and stability,” Aziz said.
“A clear and well defined road-map for peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and Taliban is of crucial importance. It should identify and stipulate various stages of the process while measuring the progress made at each stage,” he added.
Senior officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States are meeting in Islamabad today (Saturday) to finalise a roadmap for the resumption of crucial Afghan peace talks.
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and senior officials of China and the US are in attendance of the meeting.
The roadmap was introduced in the first quadrilateral meeting in Islamabad, early last month.
“The road-map must also serve to convey positive signals about the unflinching commitment of parties to the peace process,” the adviser said while addressing the meeting.
“It is really encouraging that the Group has made steady progress in its first two meetings, demonstrating clarity as well as seriousness of purpose.
“In the Kabul meeting on January 18, the QCG’s call on the Taliban groups to enter into early talks with the Afghan Government without preconditions is a reiteration of a strong message by the international community for peace talks in order to find a basis for enduring political settlement in Afghanistan,” Aziz stated.
Commenting on Pakistan’s stance on eliminating terrorism, Aziz said, “Pakistan shares Afghanistan’s concern that increasing violence is a key challenge and its reduction should be an important objective for the peace talks.”
“We require collective effort from all QCG countries at this stage, to persuade maximum number of Taliban groups to join the talks. This will not only be beneficial in terms of lasting peace and stability, but will also shrink space for the irreconcilable,” he added.
Aziz further said that timely joint decisions and actions on key issues along with effective coordination among QCG countries is essential for the peace talks to be successful.
“I am hopeful that continuing this spirit and resolve, the group will now focus on identifying a way forward for holding direct peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and Taliban as early as possible.”
The adviser reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to its “continued efforts to facilitate lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
The countries are discussing issues including where to hold talks with Taliban factions who decide to come to the table and what to do about those who chose to stay away.
Source: http://tribune.com.pk/story/1041414/political-reconciliation-most-viable-option-for-long-term-peace-in-afghanistan-sartaj-aziz/

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