Pakistani lawmakers welcome US-Taliban peace deal

By Ashfaq Yusufzai and AFP

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a signing ceremony February 29 for a US-Taliban peace deal in Doha, Qatar. [Shah Mahmood Qureshi/Twitter]

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a signing ceremony February 29 for a US-Taliban peace deal in Doha, Qatar. [Shah Mahmood Qureshi/Twitter]

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistani lawmakers are welcoming an agreement between the United States and the Afghan Taliban that could bring peace to Afghanistan.

After almost two decades of conflict in Afghanistan, the United States and the Taliban signed an accord February 29.

The pact signed in Doha, Qatar, would see the United States and foreign partner forces pull all their troops from Afghanistan within 14 months, provided the Afghan Taliban stick to pledges to open a dialogue with the Western-backed Kabul government and push back against militant groups including al-Qaeda.

The deal came on the back of a week-long limited truce that has since been extended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government, however the Taliban Monday (March 2) said they were resuming offensive operations against Afghan security forces.

"We welcome the Doha Accord signed between the US and the Taliban. This is the start of a peace and reconciliation process to end decades of war and suffering of the Afghan people," Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted Saturday.

"I have always maintained that a [political] solution, no matter how complex, is the only meaningful path to peace," he said.

"Now all stakeholders have to ensure that spoilers are kept at bay. My prayers for peace for the Afghan people who have suffered four decades of bloodshed. Pakistan is committed to playing its role in ensuring the agreement holds and succeeds in bringing peace to Afghanistan," said Khan.

A day before the peace deal's signing, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Tehran not to scuttle the agreement with the Taliban.

"There is a history of Iran engaging in activity inside of Afghanistan to act as a spoiler," Pompeo said.

Peace and reconciliation

Other Pakistani politicians have voiced their support for the deal.

"Today is a historic day for the people of Afghanistan. The agreement will stop bloodshed in the war-ravaged country and will also pave the way for stability and prosperity there," said Awami National Party (ANP) President Asfandyar Wali Khan, as cited by Dawn on March 1.

The Afghan people have rendered great sacrifices for peace and the deal will send a message to the new generation that a peaceful Afghanistan is now a reality, he said.

The agreement will not only bring stability to Afghanistan but promote peace in the whole region, he added.

Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao in a statement welcomed the peace deal and said it was a good step that will help build momentum for the restoration of peace in Afghanistan.

"This process [peace deal] should be followed through in order to pave the way for the restoration of peace to the war-ravaged country," Sherpao said.

"Now the time has come to take this process [peace agreement] to its logical end," he said, adding that the world should also engage with the Afghan government in order to facilitate an intra-Afghan dialogue.

All parties should be cautious not to lose this opportunity to bring normality to Afghanistan, he added.

All stakeholders have realised that peace is the only way to resolve the long conflict in Afghanistan, said Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JI) Senator Siraj ul Haq.

"We hope that Afghan factions will avail themselves of this opportunity to reach a mutual accommodation and usher in an era of progress and development in the region," he said.

Islam has no room for terrorism and the new agreement is in the interest of the peoples of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States, said Maulana Hamid ul Haq, the chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Sami) (JUI-S).

"We have been urging the world.. that war wasn't the solution to the crisis and only talks can bring peace. The people should pray for lasting peace in Afghanistan," he said.

Meaningful talks now should take place between the Taliban and Afghan government to achieve the desired result of the Doha accord, he urged.

Pakistan will continue to support a stable, united and democratic Afghanistan, tweeted Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who attended the accord-signing ceremony in Doha.

Peace and stability in South Asia are critical and Pakistan will keep leading and sustaining efforts for peace and stability, he added.

The Doha Accord is important, both in symbolism and substance, for Afghanistan, the region and beyond, he said. "It is a significant step forward by US and Taliban in advancing the ultimate aim of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan."

Qureshi underlined the need for continued international support for Afghanistan to enable it to commence reconstruction.

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Don't think deal will bear any fruit


The Peace Accord marks the beginning of a great future for Afghanistan. Before peace reigns, many difficulties will arise and overcome through a sense of common purpose and shared destiny. All sides will have to walk away from their entrenched positions that stood in the way of national unity. As the erstwhile warring factions strive for peace, they will find Pakistan steadfastly supporting their endeavours. The end result will In Sha Allah be good for Afpak and the entire region.