Imran Khan speaking to the media in Kabul recentlly.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has donned the role of peacemaker, as he tries to push for a ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan forces.
Pakistan’s role in the peace talks has been key.
Violence has remained high in Afghanistan despite the ongoing peace process.
The international community called for an “immediate permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, as at least 14 people were killed in central Afghanistan when two blasts ripped through the historic city of Bamiyan, home to many members of the Hazara ethnic minority.
The twin bombing marked the latest big attack in Afghanistan.
Many Afghans are enraged with Pakistan, which they accuse of meddling in domestic affairs, aiding the Taliban and deliberately destabilising Afghanistan.
Islamabad has long denied such claims.
During the past six months the Taliban have carried out 53 suicide attacks, while over a thousand civilians were among the thousands killed in violence linked to the insurgency.
International donors demanded an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan on Tuesday as they pledged around $12 billion in aid over four years – but tied their money to civil rights being upheld in peace talks with the Taliban.
At a virtual global donor conference hosted from the UN in Geneva, countries affirmed their commitment to propping up a nation beset by violence between the Taliban and government forces and an imminent withdrawal of US troops.
The Geneva conference insisted that the gains made over the last 19 years must be secured, namely democracy, the rule of law and human rights – notably those of women, minorities and children.
Efforts to rebuild Afghanistan began soon after a US-led invasion ousted the hardline Taliban regime from power in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar said the new figure was “impressive,” given countries are struggling with the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.
Hailing the ceasefire call, he said: “The Taliban must hear that: that it’s not just the Afghan people who demand a ceasefire. It’s the whole of the world community.
“The Taliban do know that there is no military solution to this problem,” he added.
The Taliban and the Afghan government have been engaged in peace talks but no progress has been announced so far.
“Plans to achieve peace did not materialise as imagined. Suffering and killing continues to plague Afghans on a daily basis. It is unbearable,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said.
The European Union (EU) foreign policy chief called for an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan.
Josep Borrell, EU High Representative, told an Afghanistan fund-raising conference in Geneva: “A ceasefire should not be an outcome of the (peace) processs, it should accompany the process from today...Any attempt to restore an Islamic emirate would have an impact on our political and financial engagement.”
Imran Khan, a former cricketer himself, is pitching for cricket diplomacy to end any strain in relations with Afghanistan. He has invited the Afghan national cricket team on a recognised tour of Pakistan for the first time, officials said, following his visit to Kabul. Imran Khan brought glory to the country, whose team he captained, after winning the first World Cup trophy in 1992.
Afghanistan beat Pakistan last year in a friendly ahead of the World Cup in England, sparking wild scenes in Kabul where jubilant fans fired machine guns into the night sky, triggering security lockdowns in foreign embassies.
Relations between the two national cricket bodies are strong, however.
Deepening the fraternal bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan is vital, as is the Afghan peace process, and regional economic development and connectivity.