US envoy arrives in Pakistan to push for Afghan peace

US envoy arrives in Pakistan to push for Afghan peace
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad holds delegation level talks with Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua at the ministry of foreign affairs in Islamabad on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (Photo courtesy: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Updated 17 January 2019

US envoy arrives in Pakistan to push for Afghan peace

US envoy arrives in Pakistan to push for Afghan peace
  • Islamabad is extending every possible support for the settlement of the Afghan conflict — Foreign Office
  • Ambassador Khalilzad was in Kabul a day earlier as part of the initiative

ISLAMABAD: A US-appointed Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation arrived in Islamabad on Thursday in order to resolve a decades-old conflict plaguing Kabul, the US Embassy in Islamabad said on Thursday.
Zalmay Khalilzad is in Islamabad to push forward Washington-backed peace talks with the Afghan Taliban and end a war that is stretching into its 18th year.
On Thursday, during a weekly news briefing, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Dr. Muhammad Faisal confirmed that Khalilzad and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi would be meeting later on Thursday to discuss the Afghan peace process.
He added that Pakistan is extending every possible support for a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict. Ahead of Khalilzad’s visit, senior US official Lisa Curtis arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday for talks on how to kickstart the stalled Afghan peace process. No details of her meetings were available from Pakistani or US officials but it is believed that she discussed the prospects of bringing the Taliban to the table for talks, among other bilateral issues.
There has been a flurry of meetings between the US and the Afghan Taliban in recent months to find a negotiated settlement between the insurgents and the Kabul government. So far, the Taliban have refused to engage in direct talks with the Afghan government, which is a major impediment to the success of the peace initiative. 
Ambassador Khalilzad was previously scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on Tuesday night but a diplomatic source said his schedule had been “fluid” all week.
On Tuesday, the special envoy landed in Kabul and held meeting with Afghan officials, saying in a tweet on Wednesday morning that President Ashraf Ghani had hosted a dinner for his team: “A good session. We discussed the peace process & all agree that progress depends on Afghans sitting with each other, negotiating a future for all Afghan people.”

The US Department of State announced last week that Khalilzad would visit India, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan from Jan 8 -21 to meet with senior government officials in each country to “facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement.”
“The pros and cons of the Afghan peace process will be discussed with the US envoy,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal told Arab News on Tuesday, declining to share specific details about Khalilzad’s agenda and engagements in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, the special envoy is also expected to meet top civilian and military leaders.

Pakistan rejects 'baseless' Armenia claims

Pakistan rejects 'baseless' Armenia claims
Updated 17 October 2020

Pakistan rejects 'baseless' Armenia claims

Pakistan rejects 'baseless' Armenia claims
  • Reiterates to "stand by the brotherly nation of Azerbaijan"
  • Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated and governed by ethnic Armenians

LONDON: Pakistan has denied its involvement in the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, following a claim by the Armenian prime minister that Pakistani troops were fighting alongside Azerbaijani troops.

In an official statement released on Saturday, the Pakistani foreign office said it regretted Armenia’s decision to resort to “irresponsible propaganda” and that it would continue to “stand by the brotherly nation of Azerbaijan.”

The defense ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh region said on Friday it had recorded another 29 casualties among its military, pushing the military death toll to 633 since fighting with Azeri forces erupted on Sept. 27.

The fighting has surged to its worst level since the 1990s, when some 30,000 people were killed.

Also on Friday, there were growing signs that a Russian-brokered cease-fire agreed upon last week to allow sides to swap detainees and bodies of those killed had all but broken down.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.

Read the Pakistani statement in full below…

We have seen the transcript of Armenian prime minister’s interview on Oct. 15 with Russian TV referring to some unsubstantiated reports alleging involvement of Pakistani special forces alongside the Azerbaijani army in the ongoing conflict.

We categorically reject these baseless and unwarranted comments. President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan has also clarified his stance on the matter stating that Azerbaijani forces are strong enough to defend their homeland and do not need the help of foreign forces.

It is regrettable that leadership of Armenia, to cover up its illegal actions against Azerbaijan, is resorting to irresponsible propaganda, which it must stop.

For our part, we wish to make clear that Pakistan has consistently extended diplomatic, moral and political support to Azerbaijan. Pakistan will continue to stand by the brotherly nation of Azerbaijan and support its right of self-defence against any aggression.

We believe that long-term peace and normalization of relations between the two parties would depend on the complete and comprehensive implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions and withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani territories.