ISLAMABAD -- Observers in both Pakistan and Afghanistan are hailing the Pakistani government's appointment of its first special representative for Afghanistan affairs.
This move is aimed at boosting Pak-Afghan relations and helping facilitate the Afghan peace process, officials said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on June 6 appointed veteran diplomat Mohammad Sadiq as Pakistan's special representative for Afghanistan affairs.
Sadiq is an experienced diplomat who served as Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan from 2008-2014 before he retired in October 2016.
He also served on the Pakistani National Security Committee and was a spokesperson for the country's Foreign Ministry.
He has held key diplomatic posts in Beijing and Brussels and was deputy chief of mission in Washington, DC, from 1998-2000.
The special representative for Afghanistan affairs is a new position created to spearhead the country's efforts for the Afghan peace process, according to Pakistani Foreign Ministry officials.
Appointment hailed from both sides
Political analysts and diplomats monitoring Pakistani-Afghan relations from both countries welcomed Sadiq's appointment.
Sadiq's "knowledge & understanding of the region and Afghanistan will hopefully enable him to play a constructive role in the region and bilateral relations at this important time", Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Atif Mashal tweeted June 6.
The two men had "a productive meeting" on June 8, according to Mashal.
"The formation of his office will help in the implementation of a follow up mechanism for bilateral relations which is a positive step forward," he tweeted. "We discussed peace and reconciliation as well as trade & transit between Afghanistan and Pakistan."
"We also discussed Ghulam Khan crossing point and Mr. Sadiq gave assurance of full support and cooperation."
"Not only does [Sadiq] have deeper knowledge, understanding & right temperament for the job but also has been strong advocate for more constructive Pak Afghan policy, promoter of peace & close bilatral [sic] relations," Omar Zakhilwal, a former Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, tweeted on June 6.
APAPPS -- a forum with the common objectives of eradicating terrorism, achieving peace and stability, and developing the region -- has not held a meeting since 2019 because of tensions between the two countries.
"Hailing from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and serving as an ambassador in Afghanistan, Sadiq understands the complexities of the Afghan conflict in both its historical and socio-economic contexts," said Bilal Alkozai, a Kabul-based researcher monitoring the peace talks in Afghanistan.
Pakistan's role in resolving the Afghan conflict in the past has been based on a military outcome, and Sadiq's appointment now will allow Pakistan to focus on a political solution to ensure peace in the region, he said.
The appointment of Sadiq comes amid renewed efforts to start intra-Afghan talks.