News Desk |
The Afghan Taliban have announced that they will travel to Islamabad to meet with Prime Minister Imran Khan if Pakistan extends an invitation. Speaking to BBC Urdu in an exclusive interview over the phone, the spokesperson of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen confirmed that the Taliban will respond to an official invitation to visit the capital.
During his joint press conference with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Prime Minister Imran Khan had vowed that Pakistan will do whatever it can to facilitate an intra-Afghan dialogue, and persuade the Taliban to communicate with the Kabul government.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan has sincerely tried to bring Taliban to the negotiation table with the Afghan government representative. He said if we all work together the dream of realization of peace in Afghanistan can be achieved. #PMIKInUSA pic.twitter.com/77Z2YDvFge
— Information Ministry (@MoIB_Official) July 23, 2019
Later at the United States Institute of Peace, Imran Khan reiterated the same promise through his address. He said, “I will meet the Taliban when I get back and will try to persuade them to talk with the Afghan government.”
Taliban to be hosted by Islamabad
Suhail Shaheen noted that Taliban seek to extend their diplomatic outreach, and look forward to being hosted by Prime Minister Imran Khan. He noted that the Taliban have dispatched diplomatic missions to multiple countries across the neighborhood and region, however, Pakistan is not just a neighbor, but a brotherly Muslim state.
However, Shaheen noted that such a meeting cannot add fuel to the rhetoric that Pakistan extends support towards the Taliban and denied that the Afghan Taliban could ever be a proxy of another state, let alone Pakistan. He noted that such accusations are only fueled by those elements and individuals who “have no other justification to fight the Taliban.”
I will try my best to get them to talk to the Afghan government, to make sure that the election in Afghanistan is an inclusive election, where the Taliban are also participating
Underscoring the Taliban’s desire to establish contact with neighboring states and other countries, the Taliban noted that even though they do not allow external forces to interfere in their “Islamic and national interests”, they do wish to establish contacts, and intensify the contacts that they have established so far.
Addressing their desire to initiate an intra-Afghan dialogue, the Taliban spokesperson noted that they will meet all Afghan political stakeholders, including the Kabul government, once the peace talks with foreign powers turn out to be a success. Shaheen noted that the Afghan issues has been divided into two phases: external and internal.
I kept reiterating that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. They labelled me Taliban Khan. But today whole world validates stance that there is no military solution. So I will put your perspective in front of President @realDonaldTrump :: @ImranKhanPTI#PMIKJalsaInUSA pic.twitter.com/Af8T2OmgBp
— PTI (@PTIofficial) July 21, 2019
Suhail Shaheen said, “The external negotiations are ongoing and approaching a conclusion, and if these talks are successful, the Taliban will then hold dialogue with all Afghan parties, including the Kabul government.”
Earlier this year, in February, a delegation of the Afghan Taliban was all set to meet with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the capital. However, Prime Minister Imran Khan declined to meet them after the protests launched by the Ghani-led government, expressing reservations over the meeting. For decades, Imran Khan has supported a political solution to the Afghan problem, which garnered him the title, “Taliban Khan.”
Today, the international community, including US President Donald Trump, are applauding Prime Minister Khan’s decision to meet the Taliban and his promise to do “everything within his power” to facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process.
Addressing a seminar at the United States Institute of Peace, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “A Taliban delegation wanted to meet me a few months back. It’s because I always maintained that there was no military solution, while everyone else in Pakistan’s political spectrum kept agreeing on a military solution.”
After meeting with President Trump, now I will meet with the Taliban and encourage them to meet with the Afghan government, says Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI. #ImranKhanUSIP pic.twitter.com/Mk75N0Bab4
— PTI North Punjab (@PtiNorthPunjab) July 23, 2019
The Premier continued, “Because of that, I had a certain amount of credibility amongst them, they wanted to meet me but the Afghan government did not want me to meet them.” Prime Minister Khan noted that now that he has concluded his meetings with the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and US President Donald Trump, he will sit down with the Taliban.
He said, “I will try my best to get them to talk to the Afghan government, to make sure that the election in Afghanistan is an inclusive election, where the Taliban are also participating.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he would meet Afghan Taliban after returning to Pakistan for facilitating Afghan peace process.
— PTI North Waziristan (@PTI_NWaziristan) July 23, 2019
Afghan-led & Afghan-owned Solution
Highlighting Pakistan’s stance on the Afghan peace process, Dr. Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson of the Foreign Office, noted that Pakistan seeks an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution to the 19-year war.
Addressing the weekly press briefing on Thursday, Dr. Faisal said, “The US and Taliban are holding direct talks. Pakistan believes that the solution to the Afghan conflict lies in a politically negotiated settlement. In the same spirit, Pakistan has facilitated direct peace talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban.”
The Foreign Office spokesperson continued, “We are noting progress with keen interest and hope that the recent intra-Afghan talks would lead to a more comprehensive and all-inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue.”
Dr. Faisal noted that all international and regional stakeholders have acknowledged Pakistan’s role in facilitating the Afghan peace process. He said, “Pakistan’s role in taking forward the peace process is being recognized by all stakeholders. The negotiations on peace terms are still continuing. The process should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. The final decision is to be taken by the Afghans themselves. Pakistan will continue to play its role.”