The Afghan official overseeing Kabul’s efforts to forge a deal with the Taliban arrived Monday for a three-day visit to Pakistan, the influential neighbor considered vital to the peace process in Afghanistan.
Abdullah Abdullah, previously Afghanistan’s chief executive, was meeting senior officials in Islamabad for the first time as chair of his country’s High Council for National Reconciliation.
Afghanistan visit likely strengthen relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan
Pakistan has pushed Afghan stakeholders to hold talks with Washington that led to a February deal paving the way for a US military withdrawal and current peace talks.
“Abdullah’s visit will greatly help to strengthen relations with Afghanistan and forge a common understanding on the Afghan peace process,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement after Abdullah met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
“Qureshi underlined the high importance Pakistan attached to its brotherly relations with Afghanistan,” the statement read, adding that the return of millions of Afghan refugees currently residing in Pakistan must be included in peace talks.
Negotiations in Doha had started on September 12th for Afghanistan peace
Negotiations in Doha started September 12 but have slowed as the two sides grapple with several foundational issues, including which interpretation of Islam should be used to frame Afghanistan’s future.
“Definitely things take time,” Khairullah Khairkhaw, a senior member of the Taliban negotiating team, told reporters in Doha.
“There are many issues, 20 or more, that need clarity.”
Nader Naderi, a member of Kabul’s negotiating team, said both sides would meet later Monday to discuss several pressing topics including a ceasefire.
“The key issue for us is a ceasefire and we are still talking about it (with the Taliban),” Naderi said.
Had a very important meeting with Afghan delegation led by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah,Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation at Isb.He is leading a high level delegation to Pak which will have positive impact on bilateral relations between our two brotherly countries pic.twitter.com/4mZ4tPR5c3
— Asad Qaiser (@AsadQaiserPTI) September 28, 2020
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 when it was ousted by a US-led invasion.
It has fought the government in Kabul for nearly two decades in a conflict that has left tens of thousands of people dead.
Violence has continued unabated across Afghanistan even during the talks.
US-led troops have been present in Afghanistan for nearly two decades, after launching airstrikes to oust the Taliban in 2001 following the deadly 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks in New York.
At 19 years, the conflict in Afghanistan has been the longest in US history.
One senior Afghan negotiator, Nader Nadery, told the BBC it was “an emotional, but very very difficult and important day.”
About the Afghanistan peace process, an official said, “All of us have lost loved ones and the country that we love so much has been destroyed… it’s also difficult because you face the people who, as an example in my case, killed my nephew two weeks ago. And we need to pull all the strength to face them, to talk to them.”
GVS News Desk