Pakistan Prime Minister Khan says will try to persuade Taliban to meet Afghan government

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, and United States Institute of Peace President Nancy Lindborg take part in a discussion at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC, on July 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 23 July 2019

Pakistan Prime Minister Khan says will try to persuade Taliban to meet Afghan government

  • Says Taliban had wanted to meet him a few months back but he didn’t due to Afghan government opposition
  • Taliban have so far refused to negotiate with the Kabul government, denouncing it as a US puppet regime

WASHINGTON: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said he would try meet with the Taliban in an effort to persuade the group to meet with the Afghan government, as the United States seeks to end the nearly 18-year-old war.
“I will meet the Taliban and I will try my best to get them to talk to the Afghan government,” Khan said during an appearance at the US Institute of Peace in Washington.
Khan said a Taliban delegation had wanted to meet him a few months back but he did not because of opposition from the Afghan government.
The United States and the Taliban are getting closer to a deal that is expected to be centered on a US pledge to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for terrorism, officials say.
However, the Taliban have refused to negotiate with the government, denouncing it as a US puppet, but in an effort to foster Afghan reconciliation, a 60-strong delegation of citizens met the Taliban for two days of talks in Qatar from Sunday.
Pakistan’s role in the peace negotiations is a delicate one.
Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of supporting the Taliban, a charge Pakistan denies, saying it has suffered heavily from the fighting.
The United States has also pressed Islamabad to do more to curb militant groups based in its territory.
Even as talks continue, the Taliban and the government have continued fighting.
Afghan government forces mistakenly killed seven civilians, including children, in an attack on militants south of the capital, a provincial official said on Monday, the latest victims of a war undiminished by peace talks.


Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

Updated 12 January 2020

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

  • Work on foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States being done
  • Pakistan’s strong relations with regional countries has made it an important player

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Thursday that the country was going to play its role in restoring peace in the Middle East by working with other international stakeholders in the region.

“Pakistan welcomes de-escalation and wants to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the region. We have seen that indication in United States President [Donald] Trump’s speech and are evaluating its contours,” the country’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, said in her weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

She said that Pakistan’s geographical position, along with its strong relations with regional countries and the United States, had made it a significant player in the Middle East.

“Pakistan has maintained that war is not the solution to any issue and made it clear that it will not become part of any regional conflict,” she said.

The spokesperson noted that Islamabad had enhanced its efforts to defuse tensions in the region and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted his counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other important states in this connection.

“All the international players, including Saudi Arabia, have said that the region cannot afford another war and asked for restraint from both parties [the US and Iran]. It’s a collective objective of all countries to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.

Commenting on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US, she said that “work on these tours has already started and they will take place as soon as dates are finalized with the respective countries.”

“We are very mindful for our brotherly and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional countries. Pakistan and the US also enjoy longstanding relations and have contacts with each other through multiple forums including political and military leadership,” Farooqui said, adding that the foreign office had established a task force to continuously monitor the situation in the Middle East and inform the government about it along with its suggestions on a daily basis.

The spokesperson expressed hope that recent developments in the Middle East would not affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan hopes that progress made on Afghan peace process will not come to a halt and the world community will not lose its focus as a result of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” she said.

Asked about the safety of Pakistani nationals in Iraq, she said the country’s embassy in Baghdad was on the alert to deal with any emergency situation.

“We are concerned about the safety of Pakistani citizens in Iraq and have issued an advisory in this regard. We have also instructed our mission in Baghdad to remain vigilant to deal with any emergency,” Farooqui said.