On Tuesday morning, high-level Afghan Taliban delegation in Islamabad met Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi who urged for the resumption of dialogue for durable peace and stability in the region. He also reiterated Pakistan’s sincere efforts for “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace talks.
The visit offers a chance “to review the progress made under US-Taliban peace talks so far and discuss the possibilities of resuming the paused political settlement process in Afghanistan” according to Pakistan’s foreign ministry. The Taliban delegation is also expected to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The Taliban delegation is led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy Taliban chief for political affairs and head of the group’s office in Qatar.
FM Qureshi calls for resumption of Afghan peace process
Welcoming the delegation, the Foreign Minister noted that 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.
“Both countries are equally facing the consequences of instability in Afghanistan over the past 40 years,” Qureshi said adding that Pakistan understands that war is not the solution to any problem. In order to establish peace in Afghanistan, negotiations were the only possible and “positive” option.
The foreign minister said that Pakistan has played the mediator’s role in the Afghan peace progress and emphasized that a peaceful Afghanistan was necessary for peace and stability in the entire region.
FM Qureshi added that 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 added that Pakistan had wholeheartedly supported Afghanistan in its difficult times during the past four decades and as a friendly neighbour, Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan brothers and sisters during this period.
At the foreign ministry, Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, Foreign Affairs Secretary Sohail Mahmood and other FO officials also attended the meeting.
Possibility of meeting with US diplomat Khalilzad
The visit at a time when the special US envoy for the Afghan peace process, Zalmay Khalilzad, is also in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Khalilzad had arrived in Islamabad for discussions with Pakistani civil and military leadership on reviving peace talks with the Afghan Taliban. Pakistani media reported that the head of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, was also visiting Islamabad.
The Taliban’s Suhail Shaheen, told AFP that the simultaneous visits to Pakistan were a “coincidence”. But when asked whether there was any possibility of the insurgents meeting with Khalilzad, he replied: “Why not? It depends on the Americans.” The Taliban are still ready to sign the agreement which Khalilzad and Baradar had hashed out in Doha, he said.
First visit since the founding of TPC
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid earlier tweeted that the Pakistan visit would be the fourth leg of a tour that included Russia, China and Iran. This is first-ever visit of a Taliban delegation to Pakistan since the establishment of Taliban Political Commission (TPC) in Doha.
Which Taliban members are visiting Pakistan?
Besides Mullah Baradar, who is head of Taliban’s Qatar-based Political Commission, 11 other Taliban members include Abdul Haq Waseeq, Abdul Salam Hanafi, Ameer Khan Muttaqi, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mullah Fazil Akhund, Mohammad Nabi Omari, Matiul Haq Khalis, Shahabuddin Dilawar, Syed Rasool Haleem, Nibrasul Haq Aziz and Ziaur Rahman Madani,