ISLAMABAD: Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz today said that Pakistan is firmly committed to continue serious efforts for long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.

He was inaugurating the first meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Committee on Afghan peace process here today. Representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States are participating in the meeting. Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan values its brotherly and neighbourly relations with Afghanistan.

He pointed out that the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia in Islamabad last month provided impetus to our quest for lasting peace in Afghanistan. The meeting on the sidelines of the Conference between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ashraf Ghani as well as quadrilateral interaction among Pakistan, Afghanistan, US and China reflected important consensus on the way forward on Afghan peace and reconciliation process.

The advisor said on 27th of last month, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif visited Afghanistan and had useful interaction with the Afghan side for strengthening the security and counter-terrorism cooperation through intelligence sharing and facilitating the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.

He said that today's meeting of the Quadrilateral Groups has a great significance. He said the foremost task of the Group is to define the overall direction of the reconciliation process along with goals and targets to set with a view to creating conducive environment for holding direct talks between Afghan Government and Taliban groups.

The Advisor expressed the confidence that the meeting will be able to evolve an efficient procedural framework to provide the basis for smooth functioning of the group. In this regard, he said, it is important to underline that the ToRs have to be consistent with the objectives and mandate of the Group.

Sartaj Aziz emphasized that reconciliation through a politically negotiated settlement is an arduous and complex task.

He proposed four points to help guide the reconciliation process: Firstly: Creating conditions to incentivise the Taliban to move away from using violence to pursue political goals and come to the negotiating table, secondly  Sequencing actions and measures appropriately to pave the way for direct talks with the Taliban,  thirdly using confidence-building measures to encourage Taliban groups to join the negotiating table and fourthly a realistic and flexible roadmap which broadly defines steps and phases ? But avoids unrealistic targets and deadlines? is important for charting the course of action

The Advisor said while positive public messaging is important, keeping in view the sensitive nature of Group's work, it should be their endeavor to keep the work of this group out of media glare, as much as possible.

He was confident that the meeting of the Quadrilateral group will have constructive and meaningful deliberations focusing on all relevant issues and charting the way forward keeping sight on their shared goal of achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan through a politically negotiated settlement.