Pakistan, Taliban seek early resumption of talks with US

Special Pakistan, Taliban seek early resumption of talks with US
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (3rd L), who is leading Taliban Political Commission (TPC) delegation, attends a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, Pakistan October 3, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 04 October 2019

Pakistan, Taliban seek early resumption of talks with US

Pakistan, Taliban seek early resumption of talks with US
  • This is the first visit of a Taliban delegation to Pakistan since the TPC’s establishment in 2013

ISLAMABAD: Political representatives of the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan on Thursday called for an early resumption of the peace process that was abruptly called off by US President Donald Trump in September.

The US president blocked the peace agreement and canceled his Camp David meeting with the Taliban after the insurgent group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, which killed an American soldier and 10 civilians.

The foreign office of Pakistan said on Thursday that a delegation of the Taliban Political Commission (TPC) in Doha, the capital of Qatar, met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and urged the US to return to the negotiating table.

The 12-member Taliban delegation was led by the head of the TPC, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and included senior members of the commission.

This is the first visit of a Taliban delegation to Pakistan since the TPC’s establishment in 2013.

The foreign ministry said that Qureshi expressed the hope that the suspended peace process would resume at an early date, adding that it was up to the parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to grasp this opportunity and bring the war to an end.

“A specific settlement of the conflict would lead to a significant reduction of violence, end of bloodshed and long-term peace, stability and prosperity for future generations of Afghanistan,” an FO statement quoted Qureshi as telling the Taliban political leaders.

The Afghan Taliban political representatives also visited Russia, Iran and China last month after Trump stopped the peace process at a time when the Taliban claimed both sides had finalized a peace agreement.

“Pakistan would continue to support all efforts to achieve permanent peace in Afghanistan which was essential for Pakistan’s own socio-economic development and progress,” Qureshi said.

He added that Pakistan had wholeheartedly supported Afghanistan in its difficult times during the past four decades, according to the statement.

Qureshi said that Pakistan had maintained for several years that there was no military solution to the complex situation in Afghanistan and that an inclusive peace and reconciliation process, involving all sections of the Afghan society, was the only practical way forward.

The foreign minister said that the direct Taliban-US talks since last year had laid a firm ground for achieving a sustainable peace deal in Afghanistan.

The TPC delegation appreciated Islamabad’s support for peace in Afghanistan, according to the foreign ministry.

The Taliban political negotiators are visiting the country at a time when US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is also present in Pakistan and local media have claimed that both sides are likely to meet in Pakistan.

Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on Thursday that Taliban leaders and the Pakistani foreign minister discussed the peace process, relations between the two countries and various political issues.

He said in a statement that the Taliban delegates also called for a solution to the problems of the Afghan refugees and traders living in Pakistan.

The Afghan presidential palace in Kabul described the protocol to Taliban representatives in Pakistan as an act against diplomatic principles.

Presidential spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, told a news conference that such visits would not help the peace process.