Army affirms support for regional peace initiatives

Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD: The army’s top brass on Tuesday affirmed its support for “all initiatives” for regional peace.

This affirmation was made at the corps commanders’ conference held at the General Headquarters.

“Forum reiterated to continue its efforts for bringing enduring peace in the country while supporting all initiatives towards regional peace,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said at the end of the meeting presided over by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and attended by the corps commanders and the principal staff officers. The meeting reviewed geo-strategic environment and security situation of the country.

Afghan president’s special envoy meets Shah Mehmood Qureshi

The statement did not specify which regional peace initiatives it was referring to, but it was apparently about the Afghan peace process.

Pakistan has lately initiated a new effort to restart the stalled peace talks by facilitating a meeting between the Taliban and the United States at Abu Dhabi.

The meeting was described as “positive” and “productive” by the UAE and the US, respectively, and it had been decided by all stakeholders that the process would continue. The next meeting, it is said, would be held soon though its venue and dates are yet to be announced.

But alongside this process Pakistan has announced revival of a trilateral process with Turkey and Afghanistan although it is being pitched as a new initiative, whose summit will be held in Istanbul. Moreover, Pakistan has in the past also worked with Qataris, Russians, and the Chinese for Afghan peace. Iranians have also started their own process and have held a couple of rounds of meetings with the Taliban.

The latest effort launched together with the US, the UAE and Saudi Arabia has not gone down well with some of Pakistan’s other partners with whom it remained engaged in the past. It was for this reason Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi last month undertook a whirlwind regional tour for explaining his government’s latest initiative.

The ISPR in a way endorsed what Mr Qureshi told the Russians, Chinese, Qataris and Iranians during his visits. The Pakistani position has been that it supports a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict.

The commanders also deliberated on the progress made on fencing of Afghan border. Of the total planned length of 2,611km, 643km have been fenced — 461km in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 182km in Balochistan. Moreover, 233 forts have been completed and another 140 are under construction. A total of 843 border forts are planned to be constructed along Pak-Afghan border.

The meeting also discussed ceasefire violations by India along the Line of Control.

Meanwhile, Afghan President’s Special Envoy for Regional Consensus for Afghan Peace, Umer Daudzai, met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office.

This was Mr Daudzai’s first visit abroad since he was given this new role.

Mr Qureshi told the envoy that there was a growing international convergence on the need to end the suffering of Afghan people through peaceful settlement of the conflict.

He said that Pakistan would do all it could to help the people of Afghanistan see the earliest possible end to bloodshed and enter a new phase of peace and prosperity.

January 9, 2019
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By Editor

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