Afghan-Taliban delegation meets Pakistan's foreign minister; discusses Afghan peace process

Sajjad Hussain
·3-min read

Islamabad, Dec 16 (PTI) A high-level delegation of the Afghan Taliban, led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here on Wednesday and discussed the Afghan peace process, amid growing incidents of violence in the war-torn country.

Reaffirming Pakistan's support for a peaceful, stable, united, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Qureshi urged the Afghan leaders to seize the historic opportunity for bringing lasting peace to their country, the Foreign Office said.

'Pakistan will continue to facilitate the Afghan peace process,' he told the Taliban Political Commission (TPC) delegation.

Welcoming the announcement of the agreement on Rules and Procedures between the two negotiating sides in Doha, the foreign minister conveyed that the agreement reflects a common resolve of the parties to secure a negotiated solution.

Pakistan will respect the decisions taken by the Afghan parties through the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, he said.

He also highlighted the steps being taken by Pakistan to deepen the economic relations and people-to-people exchanges including visa facilitation and enhancing trade and transit for the welfare of the Afghan people, the Foreign Office said.

He expressed hope that peace and stability in Afghanistan will help create conducive conditions for a time-bound and well-resourced roadmap supported by the international community, it added.

Qureshi also underlined the importance of the international community playing its role in reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan.

The delegation thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for more than four decades and appreciated its role in the Afghan peace process.

The delegation, which is in Pakistan on a three-day visit, will also call on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The visit of the Taliban Political Commission delegation is part of Pakistan’s policy to reach out to key Afghan parties in the Afghan peace process with a view to facilitating the Intra-Afghan Negotiations that commenced in Doha on September 12, 2020.

It is the second visit of the TPC delegation this year after it visited Pakistan in August.

The delegation is visiting Islamabad at a time when US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of more American soldiers from Afghanistan, leaving around 2,500 troops behind in the strife-torn country.

The delegation arrived here just two days after US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Commander Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan General Austin Scott Miller visited Pakistan and held talks with Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

AP reported that Baradar and his delegation were summoned to Islamabad from Qatar, where they have been negotiating since September with Afghan government representatives, officials close to the talks said.

According to a report in The Express Tribune, the delegation will discuss issues of mutual interest, in particular, problems of refugees, relaxation and facilitation of Afghan’s movement to Pakistan, as well as issues faced by Afghan traders.

Afghanistan has been witnessing an increase in deadly attacks for the past few months.

The Afghan government and Taliban representatives earlier this month said they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war.

The agreement comes months after the landmark intra-Afghan peace talks began in Doha. It lays out the way forward for further discussions and will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues. PTI SH RS AKJ ZH ZH