BHURBAN - Various political and politico-religious stalwarts from Afghanistan acknowledging the prevalence of peace mandatory for ultimate survival on Saturday pledged to give peace a chance in their war-torn country.

Speaking at a conference “Peace in Afghanistan”, held under the aegis of Lahore Center for Peace and Research (LCPR), former Afghan premier and chief of Hizbe Islami Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Ahmed Wali, brother of late leader of Northren Alliance Ahmed Shah Mehsud, Hizbe Islami leader Wahid Ullah Sabhun, Hanif Atmar, leader of Hizbe Wahdat Mardam Afghanistan Ustad Muhmmad Muhaqiq, former Afghan Governor and Secretary General of Jamat Islami Ustad Atta Muhammad Noor, Chief of Afghan Jirga Muhammad Karim Khalili, Allama Saeed Hashmi, Madam Fauzia Kufi, and leader of Jumbish-e-Islami Maulvi Nabi Ayubi were of the opinion that reconciliation was the only option to come over the feuds.

Rejecting the scourge of terrorism, Hikmatyar said “We want peace at all costs in Afghanistan.” However, he said various factions in the political arena of the country had a number of feuds, which had been putting hurdle in the way to achieve lasting peace.

Afghan bigwigs evolve consensus to give peace a chance

Highlighting the importance of unity, he said all the differences could be overcome through forging unity among the ranks. He urged the Afghan government to accept the genuine demands of Taliban, who, according to him, were a force and a reality in the country.

He said the fight with Taliban had caused immense losses to the country and it was the high time that the process of reconciliation be set in to achieve peace.

Wahidullah Sabhun acknowledged the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, and said both the countries had suffered a lot and whichever group, party or country offered to help overcome the problems would be welcomed.

He lauded Pakistan’s efforts to help forge peace in the region.

Hanif Atmar said Pakistan and Afghanistan should hold talks at the state level to deal with the scourge of terrorism as the challenge could not be dealt with single handedly.

He appreciated Pakistan for accepting the sovereignty and integrity of Afghanistan as an independent state. He said they were ready to hold dialogue with the Taliban, but made it clear that they would never sit on the table with, what he called, international terrorists.

Ustad Muhammad Mohaqiq thanked Pakistan for extending every support to the people of Afghanistan during their trying times like a real brotherly nation.

He said Pakistan being the land of great thinker and scholar - Iqbal - might continue to play a role in the region for achieving lasting peace. He said the time had proved that world could not live without achieving peace thus efforts in that direction were need of the hour.

He pointed out that Iran might also be taken on board in efforts to achieve lasting peace.

Ustad Ata Muhammad Noor expressed concerns over the presence of international terrorists on the Afghan soil and urged Pakistan and Iran to take stock of the situation. He pointed out that the Taliban had yet to take lenient view point on various issues to reach some substantive conclusion.

He advocated that both Pakistan and Afghanistan should enhance cooperation in the field of education, besides research and development.

Muhammad Kareem Khalili said the entire Afghan nation strongly believed in achieving lasting peace which ultimately would help usher not only Afghanistan but the entire region in economic prosperity and well-being.

He thanked the people and the Government of Pakistan for hosting the Afghan refugees for over four decades and acknowledged the efforts of Pakistan, China, the United States, and Russia for making untiring efforts to help achieve peace.

Afghan leader Allama Saeed Hashmi said the Afghan peace process was a good omen and leaders of both the countries should interact and discuss issues, and resolve them on priority basis.

Madam Fauzia Kufi said a new leadership was at the helm in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and both the countries needed to move on now. Both the countries had suffered a lot and both needed to move on.

She said there was now a new Afghanistan and with the advent of technology, the Afghan nation had changed too.

Calling for holding direct interactions between leaders of both the countries, Koufi said Afghanistan was in a transformational phase and its political leadership needed to take decisions according to ground realities.

Maulvi Nabi Ayubi said the Jumbish-e-Islami wanted peace returning to Afghanistan and it would support all efforts for the purpose.

LCPR chief Ambassador Shamshad Ahmed Khan said the conference helped achieve grand consensus on Afghan peace which was overdue and it should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, and the Afghan territory should not be used against any state.

He said Pakistan respected diversity of leadership in Afghanistan and the presence of leaders from all communities and parties in the conference reflected how much importance Pakistan accorded to the subject. He said Pakistan had always respected whosoever formed government in Kabul and whether it was Taliban, Hamid Karzai or Dr Ashraf Ghani ruling Afghanistan, Islamabad always coordinated with the brotherly neighbouring state.