- Pakistan's Foreign Minister and the Taliban's Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar discussed issues of mutual interest.
- "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," said the FM.
- Zalmay Khalilzad, America's chief negotiator in Afghanistan, is also present in Pakistan.
A top Afghan Taliban delegation, led by the Taliban’s top commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday. A PMO official told reporters that the Pakistan Army Chief also attended this meeting on Thursday afternoon. Earlier, the delegation also met Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Pakistan Foreign Ministry office. The meeting was also attended by Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, the head of ISI, the intelligence agency of the Pakistani Army.
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement that this Afghan Taliban political delegation discussed issues of mutual interest, including the Afghan peace process. On the other hand, Afghanistan’s Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, has expressed hope that Pakistan will persuade the Taliban for peace talks with Afghanistan. In a conversation with Pakistani Ambassador Zahid Nasrullah Khan in Kabul on Wednesday, he said that if Pakistan can use its influence on the Taliban to persuade it to negotiate with the Afghan government, it will force efforts to establish peace in the country.
Baradar Imprisoned in Pakistan
Baradar, who was jailed in Pakistan, was released by Pakistan after eight years of custody. He was arrested by security agencies from Karachi in 2010. In the same year, he was appointed the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar. During this meeting, Qureshi said that the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan is based on religious, cultural and historical relations, whereas Afghanistan has been facing instability for the last 40 years.
Qureshi said, “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.” He said that Pakistan believes that war is not the solution to any problem and dialogue is the only means of peace in Afghanistan. Also, Qureshi said Pakistan played an honest role in the Afghan peace process because a peaceful Afghanistan is essential for the stability of the entire region.
The Foreign Minister said that for the last several years, Pakistan has been reminding the world not to ignore the political, economic, social and cultural ground reality of Afghanistan. He said that the peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict will significantly reduce the incidents of violence in this entire region.
US chief negotiator also was present in Pakistan
The Foreign Minister said that the current regional and international consensus for peace in Afghanistan has provided an unprecedented opportunity that should be remembered. He hoped that the halted Afghan peace talks would resume soon. According to a statement by the US State Department, the Afghan Taliban’s high-level delegation appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process and agreed on the need for immediate resumption of dialogue between the parties concerned.
In Qatar, Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Afghan Taliban’s political office, said that the Taliban delegation included eleven senior members, including Mullah Baradar. The visit by Taliban representatives is taking place at a time when Zalmay Khalilzad, who was America’s chief negotiator in Afghanistan, is already present in Pakistan.
Khalilzad had recently met Prime Minister Khan on a visit to the United States. However, it is not clear whether he will meet Taliban leaders in Pakistan or not. If this meeting happens, the American delegation will have its first meeting with the Taliban delegation on Pakistani soil.