The announcement comes after PM Imran's meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Pakistan on Friday postponed the two-day Peace conference on Afghanistan due to be held is Islamabad on Saturday.

The announcement for the postponement of peace conference came after Prime Minister Imran Khan held a delegation-level talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on sidelines of ‘Central and South Asia 2021: Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities’ conference, held in the capital of Uzbekistan.

The conference is now expected to be held after Eidul Azha. 

Earlier today, Pakistan and Afghanistan held the delegation-level talks on the sidelines of ‘Central and South Asia 2021: Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities’ conference in the capital of Uzbekistan between their governments, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan asked Afghanistan to consider Pakistan as a ‘partner of peace’ rather than blaming it for the ongoing unrest, which he said was the ‘outcome of using a military solution by the United States instead of a political one’.

“Blaming Pakistan for what is going on in Afghanistan is extremely unfair. Peace in Afghanistan is our foremost priority,” the prime minister said, in response to the speech of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the conference on ‘Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity, challenges and opportunities’ held at Congress Centre.

Rejecting the assertions of President Ghani made against Pakistan for “not supporting peace”, the prime minister categorically stated that Pakistan did not want turmoil in its neighbourhood because peace was in its own interest.

“Mr Ghani, I want to make it clear to you that Pakistan will be the last country to think about supporting turmoil and unrest in Afghanistan,” he said.

The prime minister said Pakistan would continue to support reconciliation in Afghanistan and urged the Afghan stakeholders and the international community to gear up efforts for a “politically negotiated settlement”.

He mentioned that due to the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan suffered heavily in terms of its 70,000 casualties besides facing huge economic instability.

As Pakistan’s economy was recovering following a difficult phase, he said, the country wanted peace in its neighbourhood to ensure the completion of development projects for the betterment of the entire region.

Imran Khan said Pakistan had made every effort for peace in Afghanistan, including bringing the Taliban to the dialogue table. However, he said the right time to engage the Taliban in negotiations was way before the pullout of the US troops from Afghanistan.

“Why would the Taliban listen to Pakistan at a time when they are gaining victory after the withdrawal of troops,” he pointed out, adding that the US always insisted on a military solution to the Afghan conflict.

He said Pakistan was already hosting over three million Afghan refugees and did not have the capacity to bear another influx of refugees in the wake of further turmoil.

On Thursday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that a two-day Peace conference on Afghanistan will be held in Islamabad on Saturday.

The spokesperson said peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest as any security situation in the neighbouring country has direct impact on our own security. He said spoilers should not be allowed to exploit any security vacuum in Afghanistan.

Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry said that Pakistan has been hosting over three million Afghan refugees for decades and now it is not possible to accept more refugees.

He said regional economic activity and connectivity are vital for peace and prosperity of the region, which is directly linked with tranquility in Afghanistan.

Replying to a question, he said Pakistan wants to reopen Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing with Afghanistan to facilitate cross border movement of the people.