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PR No. 42 DIPLOMATIC SURGE NEEDED FOR AFGHAN PEACE: MALEEHA Islamabad: December 07, 2018

At the UN, Pakistan called for a diplomatic surge in Afghanistan while reminding the world body that Prime Minister Imran Khan had long urged a political settlement to end the war, says a press release received here today from New York. Speaking in the General Assembly in the debate on the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi said there was a clear international consensus that durable peace could only be achieved through a political settlement. “For close to two decades”, Ambassador Lodhi said, “Pakistan’s Prime Minster, Imran Khan, repeatedly declared that the war in Afghanistan can be brought to an end only through a negotiated political settlement.” “We are gratified that this is now a universal position”, she added. The Pakistani envoy said that it was evident that neither the Coalition nor the Taliban could impose its will on each other. To address the stalemate in Afghanistan, and stop the expansion of conflict, a political settlement was the only way to end the violence and realize peace, she asserted. Among the positive developments listed by Ambassador Lodhi in her speech was the willingness expressed by President Ashraf Ghani and the National Unity Government to pursue a negotiated settlement in any modality or format. Pakistan, she said, welcomed the nomination of the Afghan Government’s negotiating team in this regard. The Pakistani envoy cited as another positive development the US decision to play an active role in promoting a political settlement. She mentioned in this regard the talks about talks being conducted by the US Special Envoy with the Taliban’s representatives in Doha. She said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had responded positively to President’s Donald Trump’s request to support this dialogue process. Mentioning the efforts made by Russia, China and other regional states to promote the dialogue process Ambassador Lodhi stressed that “sustainable peace will require the endorsement of all the regional states”. The Moscow Format Dialogue last month, she pointed out, brought representatives of the Taliban, Afghan Peace Council, the US, and key regional countries around the same table to discuss the path to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Taliban representatives outlined their known position there, she said. “We hope that in the subsequent talks in various formats, the positions of the principal parties will move closer to convergence,” she added. Ambassador Lodhi underscored that while the onus for seizing the opportunity opened up by recent positive developments rested on the parties directly involved in the Afghan conflict, Pakistan would do its utmost to support all efforts to launch a sustained peace process. “Pakistan has a vital interest in a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan”, she emphasised. “Apart from Afghanistan it is Pakistan”, Ambassador Lodhi said, “that has endured the greatest suffering and damage from the strife, violence and instability in Afghanistan.” “Despite the many burdens”, she added, “our support for our Afghan brothers and sisters has remained consistent and resolute”. Even today, she pointed out, Pakistan continues to host over two million Afghans, the largest protracted presence of refugees anywhere in the world. The Pakistani Envoy concluded by saying that Afghanistan and the region are at a crucial juncture. It is obvious, she said, that the people of Afghanistan desperately desire peace and an end to this long war. So does the rest of the international community.

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