Pakistan To Attend Afghan Peace Conference In Russia Next Month


Pakistan will participate in a multinational peace conference on Afghanistan, to be held next month in Russia, the Foreign Office (FO) said on Friday.

FO spokesman Nafees Zakaria said it had not yet been decided on what level Pakistan will participate in the conference.

He also said it was not clear whether the Afghan Taliban will attend the moot or not.

Afghan and US officials had earlier told the Associated Press (AP) that Taliban representatives were not invited to the meeting.

“Pakistan will continue its efforts for the establishment of peace in Afghanistan,” Zakaria said.

He said Pakistan had decided to open its borders with Afghanistan as a “goodwill gesture”, adding that Afghanistan has been pressed to cooperate on border management.

Afghanistan, Iran, India and several Central Asian nations are among the invitees to the Moscow conference. The United States has turned down the Russian invitation to attend the event.

Last week, Pakistani officials hosted seven Taliban leaders in Islamabad to try to press the insurgents into peace talks ahead of the Moscow meeting, two Taliban officials told AP.

In Washington on Tuesday, Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani called for the US to add to the 8,400 troops currently in Afghanistan where the Taliban have stepped up attacks and the militant Islamic State group also poses a threat.

He said the Afghan government remains open to peace talks but doubted the Taliban would participate unless Pakistan cracked down on “terrorist safe havens” on its soil, a long-running source of bitterness between the neighbouring countries.

Pakistan Day festivities
The FO spokesman said Pakistan Day was celebrated throughout the country with zeal and fervour and congratulated the organisers of the military parade for an excellent presentation in connection with Republic Day.

He noted that Pakistan’s friends from across the world joined the celebrations.

He said the people of India-held Kashmir gave a “clear verdict” by singing Pakistan’s national anthem on March 23.

Zakaria said over 30 Hurriyat leaders were put under house arrest and prevented from taking part in Pakistan Day function at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. He said over 160 youth were arrested from different areas of IHK in last one week alone.

“The situation of blatant human rights violations is a matter of deep concern [to us],” he said.

He said the congratulatory message from the Indian president on Pakistan Day was a routine message as part of the custom.

“No sign of the revival of Pakistan-India dialogue can be found anywhere,” the FO spokesman remarked.

Courtesy: Dawn News

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