ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has postponed the Afghan Peace Conference scheduled to be held from July 17 to 19 in the federal capital, confirmed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that the conference has been postponed until after Eidul Adha, adding new dates will be announced later.
The conference aimed at providing momentum to ongoing peace efforts in Afghanistan where the Taliban are making sweeping advances amid the withdrawal of foreign troops.
The decision to put off the crucial moot has been taken on the request made by Afghan officials.
A number of Afghan politicians and leaders had been invited to attend the conference.
A day earlier, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri had rejected the reports about the postponement of the three-day conference.
“Any speculations about the postponement of the conference are entirely baseless,” said Chaudhri, during his weekly media briefing on Thursday.
The aim of the forthcoming peace conference is to engage with and consult all sides on the Afghan peace process,” said the spokesperson.
Pakistan has consistently advocated for an inclusive, broad-based, and comprehensive political solution in Afghanistan, according to Chaudhri.
“We have no favorites in Afghanistan and we stand with the people of Afghanistan,” he said emphatically.
As part of Pakistan’s attempts to assist the Afghan peace process, he went on to say that the nation is “engaged with all sides in Afghanistan.”
PM Imran rejects Ashraf Ghani’s Allegations
PM Imran Khan responded to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s allegations that Pakistan had a “negative role” in the Afghan peace process, saying it was “unfair” to blame Pakistan for the country’s current predicament.
During his two-day visit to Uzbekistan, the prime minister delivered the remarks at an international conference on “Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities.” At the meeting, the Afghan president was also present.
President Ghani let me just say that the country that will be most affected by turmoil in Afghanistan is Pakistan. Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties in the last 15 years. The last thing Pakistan wants is more conflict,” the premier said as he stopped reading from his written speech.
He also claimed that the Taliban was no longer ready to negotiate after the US set a deadline for military departure.
“When there were 150,000 Nato troops […] that was the time to ask the Taliban to come to the table. Why were the Taliban going to compromise once the exit date was given […] why would they listen to us when they are sensing victory” the prime minister questioned.
The premier said that Pakistan’s economy was finally recovering after going through a difficult phase. “I repeat, the last thing we want is turbulence in Afghanistan.”
PM Imran stated that no country has tried harder than Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the table for dialogue. “We have made every effort, short of taking military action against the Taliban in Pakistan, to get them on the dialogue table and to have a peaceful settlement [in Afghanistan].
“To blame Pakistan for what is going on in Afghanistan is extremely unfair.”