ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani addressed the success of the ongoing Afghan peace process and the strengthening of relations between the two countries on Wednesday, as a delegation from the Doha-based Taliban Political Commission (TPC) met with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
On their three-day tour, the Taliban delegation is expected to visit the prime minister. As part of Islamabad’s attempts to reach out to all Afghan stakeholders for a negotiated settlement of the conflict, the visit is taking place at the invitation of Pakistan, the Foreign Office said.
The Prime Minister affirmed Pakistan’s staunch support for the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for a peaceful settlement to the crisis in Afghanistan in a phone call to President Ghani.
Although welcoming recent developments in the Doha intra-Afghan talks, PM Khan stressed that the outreach of Islamabad to all stakeholders in Afghanistan was part of its facilitative efforts to ensure progress towards an inclusive, broad-based and substantive political settlement.
FM Qureshi says Taliban keen to make peace talks fruitful
The new visit of the TPC delegation to Pakistan is also in this sense.
The PM echoed Pakistan’s request to all Afghan parties to take steps to reduce the extent of violence leading to a ceasefire.
The two leaders decided to continue their efforts to facilitate the peace process and to enhance bilateral relations.
Intra-Afghan talks from Jan 5
Foreign Minister Qureshi had previously met with the TPC delegation headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, including Sheikh Abdul Hakeem, the group’s top peace talks negotiator with the Afghan government, among others.
Mr. Qureshi wished to resume intra-Afghan talks on January 5, but said that the venue for the next round of dialogue had not yet been determined.
“In a televised statement after the meeting, while emphasising the “seriousness of the Taliban” about the process going forward, the Foreign Minister said: “This process will be pursued by Insha Allah from January 5. The talks will continue from where they break up.
After negotiating for almost three months, the two sides of the intra-Afghan talks took a 20-day pause, which created a consensus on the rules and procedures for dialogue. When they agreed to take the break to update the principals about the parleys, they negotiated the agenda of the talks.
However, owing to the undecided location for the next round, the forthcoming change in the United States and escalated violence in Afghanistan, there has been an air of doubt regarding the resumption of the process.
The Taliban believe that the current war is not in their interests. From the talk, I could distinctly see their tendency towards harmony and seriousness. It was really satisfying to see that,’ said Mr Qureshi.
The Taliban have also been accused of not agreeing to curb violence, which is considered to be the main impediment to the conflict’s diplomatic resolution.
The foreign minister, however, said that the Taliban were not alone in blaming the continuing violence.
There is no noticeable decline in crime. We want a cessation in conflict leading to a truce, but the Taliban is not entirely responsible for not doing so. All sides must play their part,’ he said, adding that the discussion presented the Afghans with a historic chance to correct past errors.
Mr Qureshi said that both sides had expressed their points of view and priorities with respect to the next venue for the Afghan talks, but no final decision had been made so far. He emphasised the importance of the role played by the international community in the restoration and economic growth of Afghanistan.
Kabul welcomes Taliban’s visit
Kabul welcomed the visit by the Taliban and shared the expectation that it will help to achieve peace.
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is informed, at the invitation of Pakistani authorities, of the visit of a delegation from the Taliban Political Commission to Islamabad.
The visit of the Taliban delegation to Islamabad took place after coordination with the IRoA government and as a result of a state visit by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, H.E. Imran Khan, to Afghanistan, the Afghan foreign ministry said.
It is part of the ongoing attempts to improve the process of stability and national reconciliation in Afghanistan and is therefore appreciated by the Government of Afghanistan, it said.