Senior Afghan politicians who attended a two-day peace conference in the Pakistani city of Murree on Monday said Pakistan has assured to talk to the Taliban leadership to engage in intra-Afghan talks and agree on a ceasefire.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also confirmed that Pakistan’s previous policy towards Afghanistan was wrong and that Islamabad has now brought significant shift on its approach towards its neighboring country.
“Pakistani prime minister told us that we should not doubt their intention and determination. He said that Pakistan will hold talks with the Taliban leadership to engage in direct talks with the [Afghan] government,” said Abdullah Qarloq, a participant of the meeting and an Afghan politician.
“There is a hope that Pakistan wants to open a new chapter of relations with Afghanistan, but the concern is that they once again pursue the same track in their foreign policy,” said Latif Nazari, an Afghan politician who attended Pakistan’s conference.
The Afghan politicians also held talks with the Pakistani officials about the Durand Line.
“Let’s show some bravery and resolve the issue of the Durand Line. Let’s consult the people and organize a referendum,” said Atta Mohammad Noor, the CEO of Jamiat-e-Islami party, who also attended the conference.
However, the remarks by Noor was faced with criticism by some MPs and critics who said that the Afghan politicians cannot decide on the Durand Line on their own.
“They do not have the authority to discuss this issue unless there is consensus and collective decision in the national level about the Durand Line,” said MP Irfanullah Irfan.
Speaking to the opening ceremony of the conference titled "Lahore Process" at Bhurbhan in Murree on Saturday, June 22, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan is committed in its efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. But the Afghans have always cast doubts on Pakistan’s honest cooperation towards promoting peace in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has whole-heartedly facilitated the Afghan peace process in good faith and as a shared responsibility and will continue playing its due Our support has been crucial in overcoming the political stalemate that looked impossible to break just a year ago,” he said.
He said that Pakistan will continue to deepen its engagement with all sections of the Afghan society and their representatives in further cementing these achievements, as per expectations of the people of Afghanistan.
On June 23, a number of senators described the Afghan politicians meeting in Pakistan in contrast to the national interests of Afghanistan, calling on the Afghan government to prevent the political elites from organizing “such meetings”.
Almost 57 Afghan politicians, including Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, second deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqeq, and presidential candidate Abdul Latif Pedram, attended the Afghan peace conference in Pakistan.