Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday spoke about what he called ‘serious security challenges’ in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign forces. But at the same time, he pointed out that withdrawal also provides an opportunity for reconciliation in the war-shattered country. “The US and NATO forces have already started withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. This has important implications. In our view, while the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan entails serious security challenges, it also offers a unique opportunity for peace and reconciliation and moving the country from a perpetual internal conflict to an era of peace and stability,” Qureshi said at the 4th China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue. State Councillor and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted the meeting and was also attended by Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar. “We should, therefore, explore how our three neighbourly countries can work together to deal with the evolving situation in an effective manner and steer it towards achieving our shared objective of lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region,” Qureshi said, adding that durable peace and stability in Afghanistan would lead to a conducive environment for harnessing the true potential of regional connectivity and further deepening economic interdependence through use of innovation and technological advances. “Such an outcome will surely contribute to progress, welfare and better lives for the peoples of our countries,” he said. The foreign minister told the virtual meeting that Pakistan attaches huge importance to its trilateral mechanism with China and Afghanistan for enhancing cooperation and coordination in the areas of shared interest. He said Pakistan has always strived to strengthen its relations with China and Afghanistan in the bilateral as well as regional context. “We strongly believe that peace, prosperity and economic development of our three countries are inter-linked,” he added. About four years ago, he said, three countries had conceived this trilateral forum for discussing collaborative efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region, enhancing security and counter-terrorism cooperation and deepening regional connectivity and shared economic development through meaningful projects. “Since then, Pakistan had successfully moved forward this forum through a gradual, phased but consistent approach,” he added. He said Pakistan, China and Afghanistan are located in a region which had immense opportunities for fostering mutually beneficial economic and development cooperation. “Our three geographically linked countries straddle historical routes traversing east-west and north-south,” he added. Concerns are growing in Afghanistan about the continuation of hostilities as the Taliban and the Afghan government’s negotiators have failed to make progress in peace talks in nearly nine months. There is no let-up in fighting between the Taliban and the government forces and the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in an interview with Radio Sharia, the Taliban mouthpiece, ruled out a ceasefire until an Islamic system is established. Withdrawal of the foreign troops is underway and President Joe Biden has said the process will be completed by Sept. 11. Reports suggest the withdrawal could be completed in the first week of July.