US Congress acknowledges Pakistan’s key role in Afghanistan Peace Process

During the May 18 hearing of the US Foreign Affairs Committee titled 'the US-Afghanistan relationship after the withdrawal,' lawmakers from both the Republican and Democrat parties discussed Islamabad's potential role

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Washington- As the US withdrawal continues in Afghanistan with all foreign forces scheduled to leave by September 11, President Ashraf Ghani’s recent statement has created ripples in Congress with lawmakers expressing concern regarding Afghanistan’s future.

Ghani, in a recent interview with German publication Der Spiegel, said Washington “now plays only a minor role” and the “question of peace or hostility is now in Pakistani hands”.

During the May 18 hearing of the US Foreign Affairs Committee titled ‘the US-Afghanistan relationship after the withdrawal,’ lawmakers from both the Republican and Democrat parties discussed Islamabad’s potential role.

President Joe Biden has not yet spoken to Prime Minister Imran Khan, something that is seen as unusual given the role Islamabad has in the Afghan endgame.

Quoting Ghani, Congresswoman Sara Jacobs asked Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, “What specifically are you doing to push Pakistan’s leaders and to ensure that they do step up the way we want them to?”

“COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan both recognise that this economic benefit is where the future is. Gen Bajwa has said countries do not develop, regions develop,” replied Khalilzad – the lead US negotiator conducting peace talks with the Afghan Taliban.

“And I know there are challenges inside Pakistan, but I believe that Gen Bajwa’s last visit to Kabul was positive. They have discussed some steps that the two sides will take — working with the United Kingdom — in support of the effort to improve relations between these two countries,” Khalilzad added.

According to the envoy, the Pak-Afghan relationship “needs to be overcome” and he expressed hope they will be “given the recent developments”.

Emphasising the need to view Ghani’s statement in the regional context, he said: “President Ghani is right in the sense that the region is important for a peace agreement to bring lasting stability to Afghanistan.”

Khalilzad further stated that “The potential connectivity and trade between Central Asia, Afghanistan and South Asia is a vital part of the future of that region and for Afghanistan”.

“One should not absolve the Afghans of their responsibility. They must accept each other and find a formula that can resolve their differences,” he maintained.

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