Pakistani prime minister assures that his administration fully supports the Afghan peace process
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed on Monday that his country is no longer a haven for militants, and his administration fully supports the Afghan peace process..
However, Khan’s words were denied a few hours later when a terrorist attack took place at a religious event in the southwestern province of Baluchistan..
In the meantime, the US and the Taliban appear to be moving closer to reaching an agreement under which US troops will begin to leave Afghanistan. For their part, the Taliban must begin negotiations with the Afghan government, implement a series of security agreements and work towards a comprehensive ceasefire..
Pakistan, which has long been accused of supporting the Taliban and other extremist groups along the border with Afghanistan, is believed to have a key role to play in reaching and implementing any deal..
“I can assure you that there are no sanctuaries here,” Khan said at a conference in Islamabad..
“Whatever the situation in the past, at the moment we want one thing: peace in Afghanistan,” he added..
These comments came after Afghanistan’s second vice president Sarvar Danish said Pakistan is allowing the Taliban to recruit new fighters in Afghan refugee camps on Pakistani soil..
On Monday evening, police said a suicide bomber bombed the city of Quetta, Balochistan province, killing at least eight people, including two police officers..
Islamists and separatists remain active in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, bordering Afghanistan and Iran, although violence has declined elsewhere..
Khan said that while Pakistan cannot “fully guarantee” that the Taliban are not taking refuge among the 2.7 million Afghans living on its territory, the government is doing everything it can to prevent attacks in Afghanistan, including building a border fence..
The conference was also attended by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been leading talks with the Taliban for over a year. He expressed “cautious optimism” about progress in the negotiations.
According to him, the United States received guarantees from the Taliban on security issues.
Authorities announced last week that the Taliban, Afghan security forces and the US should begin a seven-day period of “violence reduction”.
The move aims to build confidence between the parties in anticipation of a more comprehensive agreement..
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However, the violence continued over the weekend. Among other things, Taliban attack occurred in Kunduz province.
Pakistan began accepting refugees from Afghanistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion. Under Taliban regime, Afghans continued to seek shelter in Pakistan.
UN Secretary General António Guterres, on a three-day visit to Pakistan, praises the country’s efforts to support Afghan refugees.
He also noted the “outstanding transformation” of the security situation in Pakistan..
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