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Pakistan ready for mediation between Afghan govt and Taliban

02 March, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: While extending support to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s proposed political process in the war-torn country, Pakistan Thursday said it was ready for mediation between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

“Afghan Taliban are a political entity and Pakistan supports dialogue between Afghan government and the Taliban,” Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told journalists after an event on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) here.

Pakistan is also ready for one-on-one mediation with the Afghan Taliban, the minister said, adding, “Talks between Taliban and the Afghan government are actually discussions between two political forces … and Pakistan will support it.”

Speaking at the second Kabul Process conference, Ghani on Wednesday had said that his government was ready to recognise the Taliban as a political group and offered unconditional talks with the group to ‘save the country’.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan wanted peace and stability in Afghanistan. He stressed that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.

Kh Asif observed that ‘some institutions’ in Pakistan portray their own interests as the greater national interest, adding that the ‘practice will change soon’. “The effects of the 80s and the Musharraf era still exist,” he said, adding that Pakistan will not repeat the same mistakes. “We will frame our foreign policy keeping in view the national interests … and will not sacrifice our own interests for the protection of the interests of the United States,” he asserted. The minister said that Pakistan was currently going through a period of uncertainty, adding “but I am completely certain that we will come out of it soon.”

On CPEC, the minister said the project was a beautiful example of friendship and brotherly relations between China and Pakistan. He said President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative will benefit at least 65 countries in the region. “Chinese president’s vision is not only the foundation of CPEC development but also a powerful source of regional economic cooperation,” he said, adding the troubled situation in Afghanistan was, however, acting as a stumbling block in the way of regional peace, harmony and development.

The minister hoped that the ongoing electricity projects under CPEC will be completed by May this year. “Consumers who pay the bills will be provided with uninterrupted electricity supply … and those who avoid payments will not be given any electricity,” he asserted.

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