Afghan-Taliban delegation arrives in Pakistan to push forward peace process

Islamabad, Pakistan Published: Dec 16, 2020, 06:57 PM(IST)

Taliban (file photo). Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The Taliban delegation, led by the militant group's top political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Foreign office

A Taliban delegation arrived in Pakistan's capital on Wednesday (December 16) for a three-day visit, according to official statements, as both sides in the Afghan peace process continue consultations during a break in negotiations.

The Taliban delegation, led by the militant group's top political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Foreign office. They will also meet Prime Minister Imran Khan during the visit, according to a Pakistan foreign office statement.

''During the visit, the delegation will meet with the Foreign Minister and call on the Prime Minister,'' the FO said.

The visit comes after a delegation led by US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Monday met Pakistan's Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed with him the ongoing Afghan peace process.

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.

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

''Pakistan will continue to support an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement for durable peace, stability, and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region,'' said the FO.

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

Afghanistan has been witnessing an increase in deadly attacks for the past few months. Four people were killed in separate bombing and shooting attacks in the country on Tuesday.

The Taliban last visited Islamabad in August, just before the peace talks with the Afghan government began in Doha as the United States pushed for a political settlement while it withdraws troops from the war-torn country.

Three people were killed in Kabul in separate bomb and gun attacks on Sunday. 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.

The meetings in Islamabad will take place 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.

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