Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday accused "certain forces" of stalling Islamabad's efforts for political settlement in war-torn Afghanistan and appealed to the Afghan Taliban to shun violence and join the peace process.
Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz issued the appeal to Taliban while addressing a conference on 'Achieving Peace in Afghanistan: Challenges & Prospects' organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institut a think-tank.
He said Pakistan has been making sincere efforts for facilitating talks between the Afghan government and Taliban to achieve peace through talks. However, he accused "certain forces" who shot down efforts by Pakistan.
Aziz said "a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is in our interest. We believe that a politically negotiated settlement will be the most viable option for bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan".
He said challenges in Afghanistan have multiplied since January, 2015, when the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) ended its combat mission and Afghan forces assumed direct security responsibilities.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are low after a series of terrorist attacks in the two countries for which both sides blame each other.
"The lack of progress on peace process, emerging threat of Daesh (Islamic State), drugs trafficking, the resettlement of returning refugees are some of the issues that have been making it difficult for Afghanistan to create a stable country," he said.
He said relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan were also being affected due to these factors, despite centuries-old bonds of common culture, heritage, traditions and religion.
He said terrorism was a major threat to regional and international peace. He claimed that Pakistan has been a victim of brutal terrorism.
He also talked about connectivity with Afghanistan and said that projects like Peshawar-Kabul motorway and Quetta-Kandahar Rail link were in pipeline but peace and stability was needed to complete them.
Islamabad has been under international pressure to try and bring Taliban leaders, who have been based in Pakistan since their rule in Afghanistan was overthrown in the 2001 US invasion, into some form of negotiations with Kabul....