A high-level Afghan Taliban delegation met Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other civil-military officials on Thursday in Islamabad with the two sides reaffirming their resolve to resume stalled peace talks at the earliest.
The foreign minister received the Taliban Political Commission (TPC) delegation – led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar – at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said a statement by the Foreign Office (FO). Qureshi noted that both countries suffered “tremendously due to 40-year long conflict and instability” in Afghanistan as he pushed for an early resolution.
“While the people of both Afghanistan and Pakistan have a shared history, geography and culture, Islam remains the strongest bond between the two brotherly countries,” the FO statement quoted the foreign minister.
Reiterating Islamabad’s support to achieve ‘permanent’ peace, Qureshi underscored that stability in Afghanistan was essential for Pakistan’s socio-economic development and progress. He added that Islamabad had been urging the world “to overlook the hardcore political, economic, socio-cultural and ethnic ground realities in Afghanistan and its immediate neighbourhood.”
There was no military solution to the Afghan conflict, reiterated Pakistan’s top diplomat. “An inclusive peace and reconciliation process involving all sections of the Afghan society is the only, practical way forward.”
The foreign minister said the Pakistan-brokered US-Taliban talks laid a firm ground for a sustainable peace deal.
“A pacific 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,” he added.
The Mullah Baradar-led delegation appreciated Pakistan’s support for peace as both sides agreed on the need for resumption of dialogues. “It was emphasized that reduction of violence by all parties to the conflict was necessary to provide an enabling environment for resumption of the peace process at an early date,” said the FO statement.
United States Special Envoy for the Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is also in the federal capital with a five-member team. On Wednesday, he met Pakistani officials in an effort to review the Afghan peace process.
The US and Taliban delegations visit has revived hopes for the Afghan peace deal. Pakistani officials are confident that the current efforts would lead to a breakthrough. A Foreign Office source said Taliban delegation is likely to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as the US delegation.
While Pakistan and the US have not provided much insight into the current negotiations, a US embassy official told media, “consultations follow discussions held between the United States and Pakistan during the UNGA last week”.
Last month, US President Donald Trump scuttled talks between Washington and the insurgents, slamming them for renewed violence which also claimed the life of an American serviceman. Trump also disclosed that he was to hold a secret meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David as part of efforts to push through the peace deal.
His sudden move derailed the nine-month-long painstaking negotiations between the US and Taliban in Doha, with the latter claiming the deal was already finalised and only to be signed by both the parties.