Pakistan welcomes peace agreement in Afghanistan

Islamabad: Pakistan on Sunday welcomed the signing of a peace agreement between the Afghan government and the armed resistance group Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan, saying it supports the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace efforts. The peace deal was signed in Kabul on Thursday after months of negotiations that will allow the group to start political activities and take part in elections. The group will declare permanent ceasefire, the 25-point peace agreement said. "Pakistan welcomes the recent agreement signed between the government of Afghanistan and Hekmatyar (Chief of Hizb-e-Islami)," Xinhua news agency quoted the Pakistan Foreign Ministry as saying. "Pakistan wishes to see peace in Afghanistan and we support all sincere Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace efforts to that end," a Foreign Ministry statement said. The statement said the people of Afghanistan deserve peace and prosperity, adding Pakistan remains committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan as it is in the larger interest of the region and Pakistan in particular. The agreement will pave the way for the return of Hekmatyar to Kabul in weeks to seal the agreement along with President Ashraf Ghani. The United States had designated Hekmatyar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2003 for his "support to terrorist acts committed by al Qaeda and the Taliban," according to the State Department. Kabul will approach the United Nations Security Council, the United States and other institutions to "lift restrictions by them against Hizb-e-Islami party of Afghanistan, its leadership and members as soon as possible".