FO wishes for fruitful Troika Plus meetings

By Staff Reporter
Wednesday – August 11, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The foreign office (FO) announced, on Tuesday, that Pakistan hopes the Troika Plus meetings in Doha will help facilitate resumption of intra-Afghan negotiations with a view to achieve a political solution for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan, at peace with itself and with its neighbours.

According to press releases, at the invitation of Qatari special envoy for counter terrorism and mediation in conflict resolution Mutlaq Al Qahtani, special representative for Afghanistan (SR-A) Muhammad Sadiq, is visiting Doha to participate in the regional conference on Afghanistan and meeting of Troika Plus on August 10-11, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmed Khan is accompanying the SR-A.

The FO said that Pakistan attaches high importance to the Troika Plus mechanism, involving Pakistan, United States (US), Russia and China.

This meeting of Troika Plus in Doha is taking place at an important time when the security situation in Afghanistan is continuously deteriorating particularly as the withdrawal of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) troops from the country continues, FO concluded.

Earlier on Monday, August 9, the US pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby disclosed that the US defence secretary Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone with Pakistan’s chief of army staff (COAS) general (Gen.) Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss the mutual goals of security and stability in the region.

During the call, US defence secretary Austin expressed his interest in continuing to improve the US – Pakistan relationship and build upon the multiple shared interests in the region.

US defence secretary Austin and COAS Gen. Bajwa discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, regional security and stability, and the bilateral defence relationship more broadly.

Earlier on Sunday, August 8, US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation (SR-AR) Zalmay Khalilzad departed for travel to Doha to help formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

In several planned rounds of meetings over three days, representatives from countries in the region and beyond as well as from multilateral organisations will press for a reduction of violence and ceasefire and a commitment not to recognise a government imposed by force.

He will press the Taliban to stop their military offensive and to negotiate a political settlement, which is the only path to stability and development in Afghanistan.

The increased tempo of Taliban military engagement, resulting civilian causalities in armed conflict between the sides, and alleged human rights’ atrocities are of grave concern.

A negotiated peace is the only path to ending the war, and the US will continue to work with all parties and with regional and international stakeholders to advance a consensus on a political settlement.

Earlier, on Thursday, August 5, the Russian FO deputy director (FO-DD) Alexander Bikantov said, “The situation in Afghanistan is degrading. This is largely due to US and NATO delays in following through on a complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan” highlighting “As a result, the Taliban has become markedly more active throughout the country.”

He continued, “During a summer offensive, the Taliban established control over 80-100 new provinces. In early August, it made many raids in the suburbs of big provincial centres in the west of the country (Herat, Kandahar and Lashkargah).”

Russian FO-DD Bikantov disclosed, “Afghanistan’s law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) are unable to respond to the onslaught of the Taliban and the combat capability of regular units remains minimal” alarming “Army personnel flee en masse to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The people’s militia units, established in the provinces, are not sufficient, either.”

He mentioned, “Nevertheless, the Taliban does not have the resources to seize and hold large cities, including the country’s capital Kabul. Their offensive is gradually losing momentum. Government troops have reestablished control over the provinces of Balkh, Kapisa, Ghazni, Parwan and Herat.”

Russian FO-DD Bikantov concluded, “In addition to this, Turkmenistan is taking part in the Moscow-format consultations on Afghanistan, which includes all countries neighbouring Afghanistan, the key regional powers, as well as the US” adding “We believe the Moscow format to be one of the most promising mechanisms for achieving a settlement in Afghanistan, alongside the expanded troika formed by Russia, the US, China, and Pakistan.”

Earlier on Wednesday, August 4, the Russian FO stated, “We consistently pursue the policy aimed at facilitating the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan.”

It mentioned, “We provide assistance in building a country free from terrorism and drug-related crime. We are seriously concerned about the continuing influence of Daesh in the north and north east of the country as well as the threat of the spillover of terrorist activities into Central Asia and the use of a deteriorating domestic political environment to undermine the peace process.”

Russian FO concluded, “Together with our partners within the Troika Plus and with the participation of both Afghan negotiating teams we are working to advance national reconciliation in Afghanistan.”