Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood on Tuesday held wide-ranging consultations with US Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale and reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for Afghan peace process.
“The two sides reviewed Pakistan-US bilateral relationship, its present trajectory and future direction,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office said.
The foreign secretary in a virtual meeting said that Pakistan attached high priority to its relationship with the US with a focus on enhanced economic engagement and people-to-people contacts, reiterating desire to forge a strong and mutually beneficial economic partnership with the US.
The Pakistan’s senior diplomat went on to say that a broad-based and enduring partnership between the two countries, “as envisioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Donald Trump, is a factor of stability in the region”.
In the regional context, the two sides shared their perspectives on the progress made in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
“The foreign secretary reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process and expressed the hope that the Afghan parties would seize this historic opportunity and secure an inclusive and comprehensive political solution through intra-Afghan negotiations,” according to the official statement.
Islamabad has played a key role in brokering the talks between the Taliban and the US and has since then been closely engaged with all relevant parties to take this process to the logical conclusion.
A Pakistani official, who is closely engaged with all stakeholders on Afghan peace process, told The Express Tribune that major hurdle in the way of intra-Afghan dialogue was removed after Afghan Loya Jirga or Grand Assembly on Sunday gave approval to release last batch of 400 Taliban prisoners and hence talks could begin as early as next week in Doha.
The FO statement said the two sides also exchanged views on peace and stability in South Asia.
Moreover, Secretary Mahmood also highlighted India’s illegal and unilateral action of August 5, 2019 and its aftermath, focusing in particular on massive human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), attempts to change the demographic structure of the disputed territory, and intensified ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC).
He underlined that India’s continuing military siege in IIOJK and its aggressive posturing against Pakistan posed a threat to peace and security. “It was imperative to take steps to prevent escalation of tensions and to facilitate peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.”
Ambassador of Pakistan in Washington Asad Majeed Khan and US Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad Ambassador Paul Jones along with senior officials from both sides also attended the virtual consultations.
Meanwhile, in a brief statement on Twitter, the US State Department said both the officials discussed promoting regional stability and economic growth as well as continued cooperation on eliminating terrorist and extremist groups.