Taliban in Pakistan for peace talks

Taliban in Pakistan for peace talks
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (L) speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on August 24, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 25 August 2020

Taliban in Pakistan for peace talks

Taliban in Pakistan for peace talks
  • The Taliban’s arrival in Pakistan follows a statement by Pakistan’s foreign ministry that it would enforce 2015 UN-imposed penalties that target dozens of individuals, including Baradar and several members of the Haqqani family, including Sirajuddin

ISLAMABAD: An Afghan Taliban political team arrived in Islamabad on Monday as part of efforts to help launch peace talks between Kabul and the insurgents, just days after Pakistan gave sweeping orders to enforce UN sanctions against the militant group.
The Taliban delegation, headed by political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, will discuss “recent developments in Afghanistan’s peace process” with Pakistani leaders, as well as the “relaxation and facilitation of people’s movement and trade between the two neighboring countries,” said a tweet by a Taliban spokesman.
In a press conference early on Monday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the meetings were meant to further the “aim” of bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.
“I have invited them again and will have a detailed meeting with them tomorrow,” he told reporters, adding that he will share the outcome of the talks with media.
Other members of the Taliban team include Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mohammad Nabi Omari, Shahbuddin Dilawar, Qari Deen Muhammad and Abdul Latif Mansoor.
“Afghan Taliban officials routinely pay visits to other countries as part of our political strategy to convey our views about the peace process,” the Taliban spokesman said, adding that recent trips have been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Taliban’s arrival in Pakistan follows a statement by Pakistan’s foreign ministry that it would enforce 2015 UN-imposed penalties that target dozens of individuals, including Baradar and several members of the Haqqani family, including Sirajuddin, current head of the Haqqani network and deputy head of the Taliban.
The timing of the decision has been seen by some as a tactic to push the insurgent group into negotiations.
On Sunday the group said the sanctions could affect the peace process.
“These are not new sanctions, they were previously slapped on a number of members,” the Taliban said.
“But we are now entering into intra-Afghan negotiations and there is a need for travel, so of course these sanctions will hamper the peace process.”
But Qureshi said the officials were coming to Pakistan by invitation and that the peace process would not be affected by sanctions.
“We have invited them. We had a long and productive meeting in the foreign office with the Taliban delegation before the signing of the Doha agreement,” he said, referring to a US-Taliban deal signed in February that sets conditions for a US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, the Afghan government agreed to release 400 “hardcore” Taliban prisoners, paving the way for peace talks to end almost two decades of war.
The insurgent group welcomed the decision and said it was ready to begin talks within 10 days of the release. The Afghan grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, the country’s most powerful institution, approved the release.
The Taliban militants had demanded the freedom of the 400, the last group among 5,000 other prisoners who were released earlier, as a condition to join peace talks.
Among the 400 are Taliban members accused of major attacks against civilians and foreigners, including a 2017 truck bombing near the German embassy in Kabul that killed more than 150 people — the deadliest attack in the 19-year campaign.
With the release, the Afghan government will fulfill its pledge to release a total of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.