2019 is the year of peace in Afghanistan: Daudzai

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Afghan peace envoy Umer Daudzai Friday concluded his four-day visit to Pakistan during which he received full support for his government’s efforts to begin direct negotiations with the Taliban.

Daudzai, Afghan President’s Special Envoy for Regional Consensus for Afghan Peace, said in an interview that Pakistan has ‘influence’ over the Taliban and its role is key to encourage the insurgents sit face-to-face with the Afghan government. He said Pakistan has increased its efforts for peace in Afghanistan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi paid two visits to Kabul in 10 days besides travelling to other regional capitals.

“Qureshi delivered positive messages to Afghanistan and also to the regional countries. We have received strong signals that Pakistan’s new government wants to step up its efforts for peace in Afghanistan,” the Afghan envoy told Daily Times in Islamabad.”Pakistan has influence over the Taliban and since it has started efforts to find out solution to the conflict, we want it to encourage the Taliban to come to the table with the Afghan government,” he said, adding that peace negotiations with Taliban could start ‘within months’ in order to end the conflict.

“It is good that the US is talking to the Taliban as they also have problems. So once they solve their problems, dialogue will begin between Taliban and the Afghan government,” Daudzai said, adding that US opened talks with the Taliban with permission by Afghan government and that the US consults Afghan government before and after meetings with the Taliban and shares details with the Afghan officials.”We believe the US will halt talks with the Taliban if the Afghan government demands so. But, we do not want interruption as we consider the process is in our interest,” he said.

Daudzai, however; reiterated his government’s longstanding stance about the intra-Afghan dialogue and said he is seeking Pakistan and other countries’ support to achieve the goal.”Without the direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban and a peace deal, there is no other option,” he said.”There are two parties to the conflict: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Taliban movement. The problem could be solved when both hold direct talks. I am confident that both sides will sit on the table and 2019 will be the year of peace,” he said. Daudzai said he will also travel to other regional countries, including China and Iran, as part of his mission to bring peace to the war-torn country.

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