Pakistan calls for de-escalation of violence in Afghanistan to boost chances of negotiated peace


APP93-30 NEW YORK: August 30 - Pakistan’s Ambassador, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi speaking at the debate on UN Peacekeeping Operations. APP

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 18 (APP): Pakistan has urged all warring sides in Afghanistan to agree on de-escalation of violence in a bid to create an atmosphere for a negotiated peace process, while emphasizing that there is no military solution to the conflict.
“For many years, Imran Khan, Pakistan’s recently elected Prime Minister, has declared that peace in Afghanistan can be restored only through a negotiated political settlement between the principal parties,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told the UN Security Council on Monday.
Speaking in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan, she referred to the prime minister’s first address to the nation in which he reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to peace, stability and prosperity in that country.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s first visit abroad after the assumption of power by the new government was to Afghanistan, she said, adding that cooperation between the two countries was a vital component of the endeavour to realize peace and security within Afghanistan and the entire region.
Ambassador Lodhi said that Pakistan welcomed the Trump Administration’s acknowledgement that a negotiated political settlement is the best option to bring the US longest war to an end. This, she emphasized, was the course of action that Pakistan had urged for over a decade, as well as by the UN and the international community.
“Pakistan will actively encourage, support and facilitate all efforts to launch a credible peace process,” she told the 15-member Council.
“Apart from Afghanistan, no country has suffered more from the four decades of war, turmoil and foreign interventions in Afghanistan, and no country has more to gain from peace there, than Pakistan.”
At the same time, Ambassador Lodhi said unless the parties directly involved in the Afghan conflict display flexibility, serious negotiations for a political settlement could be delayed.
Noting some signs of a negotiated end to Afghan war, the Pakistani envoy said the Eid-ul-Fitre ceasefire affirmed that peace was possible if the principal parties in Afghanistan desired it.
But launching a negotiating process was not simple as several past attempts have been aborted by unilateral actions, she said, noting the lack of trust between the main antagonists.
“To create an environment for peace talks, all sides should agree on a de-escalation of violence,” Ambassador Lodhi added.
“A negotiated peace and national reconciliation is all the more essential to enable the Afghan people and the international community to confront and eliminate the growing presence of Daesh in Afghanistan,” she said. Daesh, and a number of terrorist groups operating under its umbrella, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JUA), posed a threat to Afghanistan, its neighbours and to the region.
“We agree with the Russian delegation that an international effort is needed to defeat Daesh in Afghanistan,” the Pakistani envoy said.
Stressing that strengthening bilateral relations was a priority for her government, Ambassador Lodhi said the Afghanistan’s Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity provides a framework for comprehensive and structured engagement between the two neighbours.
The Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Management project has been designed to address multiple challenges including cross-border movement of terrorists and criminal elements, drug trafficking and smuggling, upgrading and increasing trade/transit terminals and automation of customs and other trade infrastructure.
Opening the debate, Tadamichi Yamamoto, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that, although election preparations are on schedule, security is a great concern.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, he said political challenges could jeopardize tight time lines and derail the elections unless all political leaders engage constructively and peacefully to ensure that voting time lines are met.
Strategic decisions, underpinned by a national consensus, must be taken to guide the next steps towards peace, he added. Despite challenges, conditions for commencing a peace process that will lead to talks for a negotiated end to the conflict are better today than at any time in the last 17 years, he said, emphasizing that, with the most difficult phases still to come, all sides should agree on concrete measures to build confidence for more structured talks with the Taliban.

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