Bajwa’s Afghan visit

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PAKISTAN is maintaining close contacts with the Afghan leadership at different levels to build mutual trust and remove irritants in relations. The latest visit to Kabul has come from Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa who on Tuesday held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Resolute Support Mission Commander General John Nicholson, expressing the hope that ceasefire by warring factions would pave the way for an end to the protracted conflict.
The visit is important in the context that it came a few days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke by telephone with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed the process of political reconciliation in Afghanistan and other security issues. Coincidentally, Gen Bajwa visited Kabul on the day the unilateral ceasefire by Afghan government went into effect and the Taliban too have announced a three day ceasefire from the Eid day. Indeed, the ceasefire is a positive development for the Afghan people and as also pointed out by the Army Chief, we expect it will lead to enduring peace in the conflict ridden country. Already the people of Afghanistan have suffered a lot and rendered immense sacrifices as a result of decades of conflict and civil war and it is really time to heal their wounds. The objective cannot be achieved unless both Afghan and the US leadership demonstrate maturity and farsightedness towards that end. In recent times, it is good to see the Afghan leadership announcing confidence building measures such as offering the Taliban talks and accepting them as a political entity. Pursuing the same track with consistency can clear the way for resumption of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Pakistan hosted the first direct peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban in 2015, but they ended when Kabul announced the death of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar. Pakistan is still ready to facilitate the peace process and it has expressed its commitment towards an Afghan owned and an Afghan led peace process. How much Pakistan desires peace and stability in Afghanistan can also be gauged from the Army Chief’s remarks that the construction of fencing along the border is to prevent unauthorised cross border movement of terrorists and not to erect walls between the peoples of two countries. Indeed the peoples of two countries have close affinities and consider each other as brothers and we expect that this goodwill be taken forward by increased level of contacts to realise the long cherished dream of peace and stability in the region.