Taliban delegation meets Pak FM Qureshi, discusses Afghan peace process
A high-level delegation from Afghan Taliban’s Qatar-based political office met with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday and discussed issues impeding the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue for ending the 19-year-long conflict in the country, according to a media report.PTI | Islamabad | Updated: 25-08-2020 22:50 IST | Created: 25-08-2020 22:27 IST
A high-level delegation from Afghan Taliban's Qatar-based political office met with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday and discussed issues impeding the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue for ending the 19-year-long conflict in the country, according to a media report. Mullah Baradar, the director of the political office and Taliban's deputy emir responsible for political affairs, led the delegation, which arrived on Monday on the invitation of Pakistan's foreign ministry.
During the meeting, the Afghan delegation informed Qureshi of the progress made on the peace deal inked between the US and the Taliban, the Dawn News reported. "From the start, Pakistan has taken the position that a lasting and permanent solution can only be achieved through dialogue overseen by the Afghans," Qureshi said during the meeting.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the foreign minister said that the meeting with the Taliban leadership lasted for two hours. "The Taliban leadership thinks that Pakistan has played a positive role in bringing peace in Afghanistan," he said, adding that the only way forward was through dialogue.
He added that the Taliban thought that the peace deal inked in Doha should be implemented. "They highlighted that there were some obstacles that could be resolved through dialogue," he was quoted as saying by the daily.
According to the Foreign Office (FO), Qureshi "emphasized the implementation of the US-Taliban Peace Agreement, in its entirety, paving the way for the earliest possible commencement of Intra-Afghan negotiations". Qureshi reiterated Pakistan's commitment to a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, it said.
He said that Pakistan had continued to play its role in the peace process under a shared responsibility, the efforts of which paid off when the US and Taliban signed the peace deal in Doha in February. He expressed hope that the Afghan leadership would take full advantage of the "rare opportunity" in the form of the peace agreement.
The foreign minister said that Pakistan wanted the intra-Afghan dialogue to be held as soon as possible to ensure peace in the region, the daily reported. "Pakistan will continue to play its role in the Afghan peace process and ensure peace in the region," he said.
This is the second visit of Mullah Baradar to Pakistan in the last 10 months. He visited Islamabad in October last year when President Donald Trump abruptly called off the peace talks with the Taliban, citing the militant group's continued attacks against the US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistan at that time had arranged a meeting between the Taliban delegation led by Mullah Baradar and US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. That meeting had helped the process to be back on track, which eventually culminated in the landmark deal signed between the US and the Taliban on February 29.
The deal envisages a roadmap for the US troops' withdrawal in return for the Taliban agreeing not to let Afghan soil be ever used again by any terrorist group. In a Twitter post, Taliban political office spokesman Suhail Shaheen had announced that the visiting delegation would discuss "recent developments in Afghanistan's peace process, relaxation and facilitation of peoples' movement and trade between the two neighboring countries, issues related to the Afghan refugees in Pakistan and other related topics".
He said delegations from Taliban's political office kept visiting various countries for "furthering positive relations" and "conveying views and stance to the world about the peace process". He said the trips had been postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 but they were being resumed as the situation had improved. He said that the Taliban would be visiting some other countries also.