Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday said Pakistan would continue to support a peaceful and stable Afghanistan through a political instead of a military solution to the conflict. In his address at the 9th Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) Ministerial Conference in the Tajik capital, the foreign minister called for a united approach by regional countries to help restore the prosperity of the Afghan people. Qureshi termed the Heart of Asia Process an important platform to bring together partners and supporting countries who wanted to achieve the common goals of peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan. For Pakistan, he said, Afghanistan is an important neighbour and brotherly country with strong historical ties. “Pakistan desires peace and development in Afghanistan more than any other nation,” he said, adding that the Afghan peace process is at a ‘defining junction’ and Afghanistan has never been so ‘close to turning the tide’. “As we gather here, the Afghan peace process stands at a defining junction,” he added. He recalled the historic development of the signing of the US-Taliban peace agreement in February 2020 and the positive role played by Pakistan in this regard. The progress made so far has certainly provided a historic opportunity for the Afghan leadership to find a ‘negotiated, inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive solution to the problem’. Qureshi said as part of the efforts to engage extensively with Afghan leaders, Pakistan consistently called for constructive dialogue and engagement to achieve positive results. “Our message to all is to carry forward this process through good faith, solid and fruitful dialogue,” he said. The foreign minister said besides the historic opportunity, several challenges for the Afghan nation lied ahead and warned of the “spoilers inside and outside Afghanistan”. He also highlighted Pakistan’s efforts for ensuring peace in Afghanistan. He expressed deep concern over the growing incidents of violence across Afghanistan, fearing that ISIS or al-Qaeda could gain a foothold in the country. He said the destruction of infrastructure and the lack of economic opportunities could jeopardize the benefits of the Afghan peace process. Qureshi emphasized taking forward and strengthening the Doha peace process and called upon the international community to secure investment in Afghanistan to achieve the goals of prosperity. He proposed a number of steps towards Afghan peace including an immediate ceasefire to reduce violence, financial assistance by the international community for post-conflict development, long-term planning for Afghanistan’s economic development and creating a conducive environment for Afghan refugees to return home with dignity. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Qureshi and President Ashraf Ghani discussed strengthening bilateral relations and continued efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. “Pakistan believed there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement was essential for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he reiterated, adding that peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan. He also had a separate meeting with Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar to discuss bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process. Separately, Pakistan and Iran agreed on the need for expeditious finalization of arrangement to facilitate legal trade and improve livelihood in border region, in light of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative of joint border markets. The matter was discussed in a meeting between Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Iranian counterpart Dr Javad Zarif, in Dushanbe, a Foreign Office press release said. During the meeting, the two foreign ministers reviewed bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional issues, particularly the Afghan peace process. Qureshi emphasized the importance of enhanced bilateral economic cooperation. The two foreign ministers also reviewed progress on the opening of new border crossing point.