Taliban’s safe places are in Afghanistan, says Maleeha Lodhi

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan says the safe havens of Taliban are inside Afghanistan and the resilience of the insurgency led by Taliban cannot be explained away by convenient references to ‘external sanctuaries’ and ‘support centers’.

This was stated by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Dr. Maleeha Lodhi to the United Nations (UN) during a debate on Afghanistan.

She said that the continued reliance on a military option or enhancing troop numbers in Afghanistan without a political strategy would yield no sustainable results in the war torn country. “The promotion of a political settlement and the pursuit of a military solution in Afghanistan are mutually incompatible,” Lodhi added.

Stressing the need to find a negotiated solution, she said that “Over the years, Pakistan has done what it can, when asked, to help facilitate such a negotiated settlement.” She referred in this regard to the 2015 Murree talks and efforts under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) framework; as also her country’s engagement with the Heart of Asia conference, International Contact Group, Moscow Format, and, most recently, the Kabul process, among others.

But she made it clear that while others could help by promoting a negotiated settlement, peace could only be negotiated when the Afghan parties desired it and eschewed a military solution.

Moreover, she asserted that Pakistan was committed not to allow its territory to be used for terrorism against other countries. Pakistan’s Zarb-e-Azb and the subsequent Radd-ul-Fassad military operations had succeeded in eliminating all terrorist and militant groups from its tribal territory bordering Afghanistan.

She told the 15 member Council that Pakistan is “implementing border controls, including the fencing and monitoring of vulnerable sections of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.”

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