Pakistan has played a key role in the Afghan Peace Process, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner said Saturday.
Turner, in a tweet, said: “Pakistan’s leadership has been key in getting to today’s historic Intra-Afghan Negotiations.”
“Thank you Imran Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and Ambassador Sadiq — now to work together for peace & against spoilers,” he added.
The British envoy’s comments came hours after peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government opened in Qatar, marking what US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heralded as a “truly momentous” breakthrough in nearly two decades of relentless conflict.
“We will undoubtedly encounter many challenges in the talks over the coming days, weeks and months,” Pompeo said as he called for the warring sides to “seize this opportunity” to secure peace.
Nineteen years since the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban, Afghanistan’s war still kills dozens of people daily and the country’s economy has been devastated, pushing millions into poverty.
Abdullah Abdullah, who was previously Afghanistan’s chief executive and is heading the peace process for Kabul, said 12,000 civilians have been killed and another 15,000 wounded just since the US signed a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban on February 29.
Abdullah called for an immediate, humanitarian ceasefire — but his plea went unanswered by Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who made no mention of a truce in his opening remarks.
The Taliban have long worried that reducing violence could lessen their leverage.
Instead, Baradar repeated the insurgents’ message that Afghanistan should be run according to Islamic law, highlighting what likely will be the main sticking point in negotiations.