US Secretary of State discusses Afghan peace process with Pakistan army chief

Islamabad: US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken on Wednesday spoke to Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed matters of mutual interest and regional security situation including latest developments in Afghan peace process.

During the telephonic conversation, matters of mutual interest, regional security situation including latest developments in Afghan Peace Process and bilateral cooperation in various fields were discussed, the army said in a statement.

General Bajwa said that Pakistan will always support “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned Peace Process based on mutual consensus of all stakeholders”.

Secretary Blinken also “acknowledged Pakistan’s continuous efforts for peace and stability in the region and pledged to further enhance bilateral relations between both countries,” according to the army.

The Pakistan Army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 72 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.

Blinken made the call just ahead of the formal announcement of US President Joe Biden regarding troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, two decades after the twin towers attack prompted invasion of the country.

The US and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in Doha on February 29, 2020 to bring lasting peace in war-torn Afghanistan and allow US troops to return home from America’s longest war.

Under the US-Taliban pact signed in Doha, the US agreed to withdraw all its soldiers from Afghanistan in 14 months.

Since the US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 attacks, America has spent more than USD 1 trillion in fighting and rebuilding in Afghanistan.

About 2,400 US soldiers have been killed, along with tens of thousands of Afghan troops, Taliban insurgents and Afghan civilians.