Talks between Afghan govt, Taliban to start next month

Talks between Afghan govt, Taliban to start next month

  0 comments   |     by Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

Talks between Afghan govt, Taliban to start next month

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

The News

ISLAMABAD: Talks between Afghan administration and Taliban would start afresh next month as behind-the-scene contacts are proving highly useful and positive signals are coming from both sides. The reconciliation process for intra-Afghan dialogue would get big boost towards the end of the month or early January when quadruple consultations will get underway. For the purpose Pakistan, China, United States and Afghanistan’s designated top representatives would put their heads together in Islamabad or any other capital.

Highly placed diplomatic sources told The News here Sunday that Pakistan would appoint National Security Adviser (NSA) to the Prime Minister Lieutenant General (R) Nasser Khan Janjua for the consultations while former Afghan diplomat Muhammad Hanif Athmar, who is NSA to the Afghan president, would be designated from Kabul.

An eminent Chinese diplomat Deng Xijun who is special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan would take part on behalf of China while recently appointed US representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson would be representing the United States in the deliberations. The sources said that stalled process of reconciliation would start in the light of the slated deliberations.

The dialogue was derailed in July last when the second round of the talks between Taliban and Afghan government was about to take place in Murree near Islamabad. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani gave his nod for resumption of talks early this month when he was here to co-chair the Heart of Asia Conference.

The sources hinted that Taliban leadership is also willing to join negotiations and for the purpose quiet diplomacy of the four counties is at work and yielding positive results. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif is likely to pay visit to Kabul during this week and he will have meeting with Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah and other high ups in Kabul.

The one-day trip of the COAS is being scheduled by the two sides. The General had an exclusive meeting with Ashraf Ghani here in Islamabad early this month and he was invited for a visit to Kabul by the president. The president appreciated the efforts and approach of General Raheel with regard to peace efforts for Afghanistan. The sources said that the high echelon meeting of Friday last under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had evolved strategy to deal with the upcoming situation with regard to Afghanistan. The meeting was also attended by the COAS and other senior leaders and officials.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had earlier told the Afghan president that Pakistan would be willing to play role for facilitating reconciliation in Afghanistan provided it is asked for the same.

Pakistan believes that peace and stability in Afghanistan would help in maintaining peace in Pakistan and in broader perspective in the whole region. The Afghan president and participants of the Heart of Asia Istanbul process welcomed Pakistan’s offer and in the light of the discussions Pakistan has been actively following the path for bringing the Taliban on the dialogue table, the sources added.

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