Saturday, July 20, 2024

Pakistan, US, Russia, China ask Taliban to ensure Afghan soil not used for terror attacks

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Pakistan, United States, Russia and China on Saturday called on the Afghan Taliban to “fulfil its counterterrorism commitments” and ensure that Afghan soil is not used by terrorist groups as  base to harm other countries.

The countries that form the extended Troika released a 14-point joint statement after a meeting on Friday in Qatar’s capital Doha. 

They had met to “discuss ways to support intra-Afghan negotiations and help the parties reach a negotiated settlement and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”.

The statement, which was issued by all the participating countries, stated that the Troika held a meeting with Afghan government’s negotiating team and the Taliban, as well as Qatar officials.

In the statement the four countries “affirmed” 14 points  on the outcomes of previous Troika meetings and discussions held on March 22, April 25, July 11, and October 25, 2019; June 3 and November 30, 2020; and March 18, 2021.

The statement acknowledged the “widespread and sincere demand of the Afghan people for a lasting and just peace and an end to the war”. It also reiterated that there is “no military solution in Afghanistan and a negotiated political settlement through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process is the only way forward for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan”.

The Troika also took note of the April 14 announcement by the US and NATO that they will begin a “responsible withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1” which would conclude by September 11, 2021.

“We reiterate that the withdrawal of foreign troops should ensure a steady transition of the situation in Afghanistan. We stress that, during the withdrawal period, the peace process should not be disrupted, no fights or turbulence shall occur in Afghanistan, and the safety of international troops should be ensured,” said the joint statement.

“We expect the Taliban to fulfil its counterterrorism commitments, including preventing terrorist groups and individuals from using Afghan soil to threaten the security of any other country; not hosting these groups and preventing them from recruiting, training, and fundraising. We expect the Afghan government to continue counterterrorism cooperation with the international community,” said the statement in its fourth point.

The Troika also called on all the parties in the war-torn country to reduce violence and urged the Taliban to not pursue a spring offensive.

“We condemn in the strongest terms any attacks deliberately targeting civilians in Afghanistan and call on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in all circumstances, including those related to protection of civilians,” said the statement.

The Troika reiterated that “diplomatic personnel and property” will be considered “inviolable”, and warned that the perpetrators behind such “attacks or threat on foreign diplomatic personnel and properties in Kabul will be held accountable”.

All the countries urged the Ashraf Ghani-led government in Kabul and Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation to openly engage with the Taliban for a “negotiated settlement”.

“We do not support the establishment in Afghanistan of any government imposed by force, consistent with the Joint Statement of the March 18 Expanded Troika,” said the statement.

The group also voiced support to review the “status of designations of Taliban individuals and entities on the UN 1988 sanctions, as stated in the UNSC resolution 2513 (2020)”. However, it explained that practical measures are taken by the Taliban to reduce violence and sustained efforts to advance intra-Afghan negotiations will positively affect the review process.

The statement recognised Turkey’s plans to host a conference of senior leaders of both Afghan parties for the intra-Afghan negotiations. It also welcomed the United Nations and Qatar’s roles as co-conveners of the dialogue.

“We call upon the negotiating parties to make progress toward an inclusive political settlement and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire,” read the statement. It also lauded Qatar for facilitating the peace process.

The statement also welcomed the UN for its expanded role in the talks and using its “considerable experience and expertise in supporting other peace processes”.

“We strongly advocate a durable and just political resolution that will result in the formation of an independent, sovereign, unified, peaceful, democratic, neutral and self-sufficient Afghanistan, free of terrorism and an illicit drug industry, which contributes to a safe environment for the voluntary, expeditious and sustainable return of Afghan refugees through a well-resourced plan; stability; and global security,” read the statement.

It reaffirmed that “any peace agreement must include protections for the rights of all Afghans, including women, men, children, victims of war, and minorities, and should respond to the strong desire of all Afghans for economic, social and political development including the rule of law”.

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