ISLAMABAD - Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday asked Pakistani business community to capitalise on the environment and assist in economic stability of the country.

The Army Chief stated this while talking to a delegation of business community in Karachi.

According to ISPR, the Army Chief apprised the business community about improved security situation of the country especially in Karachi. He asked the delegation to capitalise on the environment and assist in economic stability of the country.

The business community acknowledged Pakistan Army's efforts in bringing about secure environment for increased business opportunities in the country.

They pledged that the business community shall contribute their critical bit in strengthening the economic capacity of the country.

Meanwhile, Afghan peace process as well as regional security situation figured high in an important meeting between Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Shukrullah Atif Mashal and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ in Rawalpindi on Friday.

According to a statement issued by the ISPR, Army Chief welcomed the new Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan and expressed that his services will help optimise the mutually beneficial bilateral relations.

“Regional security situation and Afghanistan peace process were discussed during the meeting,” the statement added.

The development was important after first round of directs talks started between Afghan Taliban and the United States was suspended last week on the question of venue of the next meeting and Taliban insistence that they do not want participation of Afghan government representatives in the peace talks at this stage.

According to Taliban, they first want withdrawal of the invading forces led by the United States from Afghanistan.

These developments followed visit of special envoy of the Afghan President Omer Daudzai to Pakistan and met Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to discuss the latest developments on Afghanistan peace process.

Earlier, Quershi had undertaken crucial visit of countries including Afghanistan, Iran, China and Russia to take them on board about crucial peace talks held between the United States and Afghan Taliban in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on December 17.

On its part Islamabad supports intra-Afghan dialogue to seek a political solution to the lingering Afghan crises and had facilitated direct talks between the Taliban and the US special representative on Afghanistan Zalmey Khalilzad.

The direct talks between the US and the Taliban came just days after the US President Donald Trump wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeking his help for a negotiated settlement of the Afghan war. Trump had urged Khan to help facilitate meeting between the American officials and the Taliban.

Breaking the news last month, Prime Minister Khan said that Pakistan was going to arrange a meeting between the US officials and the Taliban representatives on December 17.

This was the second time Pakistan arranged direct talks between US and Taliban. In 2016, Pakistan brokered the first-ever face to face talks between the Taliban and the US and Afghan government representatives in Murree. Officials from Pakistan and China were also present at the moot.

Then the process could not move forward after news of the death of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar was leaked to the media by some Afghan official. Pakistan blamed elements within Afghanistan for scuttling the budding peace process.

The development subsequently strained relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But in recent months the two neighbours have begun resetting their troubled ties by evolving a bilateral mechanism to address each other’s concerns on the Afghan endgame.

After criticising and blaming Pakistan for months, the Trump administration has also now reached out to Islamabad seeking its help for the Afghan peace process. The reason the US is seeking Pakistan’s help stems from the fact that its recent rounds of talks with the Taliban could not yield the desired results.

The US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had met twice with the Taliban representatives in Doha. The US believes that Pakistan still holds considerable sway over the Taliban and hence it can play a crucial role in brokering a deal.

The Trump administration is aiming to strike a deal with the Taliban by April next year or before the Afghan presidential elections. The Taliban, who control over 60 per cent of the Afghan territory, want the US forces to leave Afghanistan.


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