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Pakistan Key to Bringing Peace in Afghanistan: ex-PM Hekmatyar

DESPARDES — Afghanistan’s former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has praised Pakistan’s role in the ongoing peace process for his war-ravaged country. 

“Pakistan is a very important country and Islamabad could play a key role in bringing peace in Afghanistan and now they are doing it,” Hekmatyar told Anadolu Agency in the resort town of Bhurban near the capital Islamabad.

He was in Pakistan along with 57 other Afghan leaders to attend a peace conference called “Lahore Process” on Saturday in Bhurban.

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“I praised Pakistan’s sincere efforts and I am sure they will continue its help to bring peace in our country,” the two-time prime minister said.

The Americans are also praising Pakistan’s role in bringing Taliban on the negotiating table, he said.

Hekmatyar’s arrival in Islamabad was a first after his landmark deal with the Kabul government in 2016, which ended his 20-year-long self-imposed exile.

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He formed his political party Hezb-e-Islami in the mid-70s which is ideologically inspired by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami.

The 71-year-old leader was received by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

“We welcome every country and individual who is taking any step for peace in Afghanistan. War always ends with peace and now war in our country will also end with peace,” Hekmatyar said.

During his visit, he demanded the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and reiterated the need to allow the Afghan people decide their future.

Hekmatyar asked the Afghan political and religious leaders to brainstorm for a system to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country.

He said no one should be allowed to use the Afghan soil to harm another state and urged the government to follow a balanced foreign policy.

“The government should not interfere in conflict of others. They should not use one group against another,” he concluded.

Thr culmination of Hekmatyar’s visit and the peace conference in Bhurban, saw Afghan President Ashraf Ghani making an extraordinary trip to Islamabad with a high level delegation raising the possibility of a reset in ties between the two neighbors.

It was Ghani’s first official visit to Pakistan since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office last August.

“President Ghani’s visit to Islamabad will improve ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan and will begin a new era between the two neighbors,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in the resort town of Bhurban near Islamabad during the Afghan peace conference.

In December 2018, PM Khan said that Pakistan had helped the U.S. bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table.

“Pakistan has helped in the dialogue between the Taliban and the U.S. in Abu Dhabi. Let us pray that this leads to peace and ends almost three decades of suffering of the brave Afghan people,” Khan said on Twitter.

He promised that Islamabad will do everything it can to further the peace process.