Islamabad: China has expressed a desire to take on a role as mediator between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office said in statement on Monday, Tolo News reported.
"China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is scheduled to visit Kabul soon where he will meet Afghan officials to discuss ways to improve Afghanistan-Pakistan relations," the statement said. It added that the Chinese foreign minister would work to discuss the possibility of setting up a meeting between the four members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Committee - Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China. The four-nation group was formed in January 2016 for reconciliation in Afghanistan through the direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. "It is the first time that China wants to be a mediator in Afghanistan's peace process and soon the Chinese Foreign Minister will visit Kabul. Peace with Pakistan was our demand and this must be solved between government and government," Ghani said, according to the statement. The development follows a spate of deadly attacks in the country. Two weeks ago, a suicide truck bomber detonated his explosives in the Kabul city, killing over 150 people wounding hundreds other. No group, including the Taliban, claimed responsibly for the attack. Pakistan had closed the Pak-Afghan border in mid-February this year, following a string of militant attacks that Islamabad blamed on militants hiding in Afghanistan. The closure of the formal crossing points on the 2,600km porous border was ordered after the Sehwan shrine bombing that claimed around 100 innocent lives.
Existing tensions between the two countries further deepened last month when the Afghan border forces reportedly opened fire on security personnel and civilians on Pakistani side, killing at least nine people. Subsequently, Pakistan Army claimed to have killed 50 Afghan security personnel in a retaliatory move.
Several efforts, including visits of officials and jirga members, have been made since then to bring normalcy in the bilateral relations of the two countries but no major breakthrough has surfaced as yet.
Earlier this month, Ashraf Ghani lashed out at Pakistan at the Kabul Process, alleging that it is waging an "undeclared war of aggression" against Afghanistan. Last week, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Ashraf Ghani held a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit where both the leaders agreed to use the QCG mechanism as well as bilateral channels to undertake specific actions against terrorism.
They also agreed to use the QCG to promote peace and reconciliation within Afghanistan.