Pakistan committed to Afghanistan Peace Process
Under Biden, the new US administration has been reviewing the terms of the US’ agreement with the Taliban. The deal stipulated that the US would completely withdraw by May 2021. Meanwhile, they have renewed their push for a permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan. This time around, they have endorsed the idea of power-sharing between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. The government shared the proposal with the Taliban. Washington has also requested the UN to facilitate a convention of representatives from Russia, Pakistan, Iran, China, and India, along with the US. The purpose of this is to support peace and foster a unified front in the region and amongst external stakeholders.
There were concerns that Pakistan might have issues with India being included in the group. However, Pakistan’s first official statement on the renewed US effort to fast-track a ceasefire has been balanced and conducive to regional peace. Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office has said that Pakistan welcomes the US’ efforts to “re-energize” the Afghan Peace Process and speed up a peaceful political settlement. He called on all parties to collaborate towards a comprehensive, equitable, and inclusive peace in Afghanistan.
Foreign Office’s Statement
He directly addressed the inclusion of India in the process and said that Pakistan supports regional approaches to resolving the Afghan issue. He did, however, highlight that India has not played a constructive role in the peace process thus far. He also pointed out that for peace in Afghanistan, partners must be wary of spoilers that hinder the achievements needed.
Their spokesman summarized Pakistan’s stance on the Afghan issue by saying, “It is important for Afghan parties to continue negotiations and pursue an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. All sides must work together for an inclusive, broad-based, and comprehensive political settlement.”
Pakistan’s official rhetoric on addressing issues related to India has also softened. Pakistan is doing its best to hold its end of the ceasefire accord at the LoC. Both sides also agreed to address issues and concerns that challenge regional peace.
Addressing India’s concerns
On the issue of Pakistani Habib Zahir’s abduction in Nepal, the role of hostile Indian nationals/ agencies was mentioned. He added that the capture of the retired military officer was a serious transnational crime and that “Indian media reports and tweets from Indian personnel corroborate the evidence that he is in their custody”. However, the spokesman maintained that Pakistan-India has never shied from discussing issues of regional peace. Pakistan is always willing to have dialogues, even on sensitive issues such as the Kashmir dispute.