Pakistan, US agree on resumption of broken Afghan peace talks
Islamabad : Pakistan and the US have agreed to make efforts for restarting the stalled peace process between Afghanistan government and Taliban insurgents after second round of talks were cancelled in July as the news of feared Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death was leaked.
The understanding was reached during recently concluded trip (Nov 15-20) of Pakistan’s Army chief General Raheel Sharif to Washington where he met a slew of military and civilian leaders including Vice President Joe Biden.
“There is a sort of agreement that there is a need to move on the Afghan reconciliation thing very quickly depending on the conditions,” a senior diplomatic source was quoted as saying by the told Dawn newspaper.
The paper reported that Afghanistan was the focus of General Sharif’s visit, during which he also discussed Pakistan’s strained ties with India, military cooperation, strategic (nuclear) issues and other regional matters.
“The general quite candidly conveyed his views on the issue, both the political and the strategic perspective, to his interlocutors,” the source said.
General Sharif is believed to have communicated Pakistan’s fears in accepting the facilitation role that it is expected to play for reviving the process.
The Pakistani side is primarily concerned about the Afghan security establishment thwarting a renewed process.
Military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, too, had in one of his tweets on the army chief’s visit said that “requirement of conducive environment for re-initiating Afghan peace process” was emphasised.
Pakistan facilitated the first ever direct and open peace talks between Afghan officials and Taliban held in July in the hill resort of Murree near Islamabad.
The second round planned on July 31 was canceled when death of Mullah Omar surfaced ahead of talks.
It followed with more deadly violence in Afghanistan due to row within Taliban over leadership.
But it has been largely addressed as Mullah Mansoor has emerged as chief of the rebels.
It is believed that Pakistan is wary of elements within Afghanistan which are not happy with the peacemaking role of Pakistan as it may increase its influence.
However, the peace process is not possible without support of Pakistan as it enjoys strong influence over Taliban due to historical ties.
Pakistan and US have not set any timeframe for getting back on track the talks process but sources said that efforts are underway in the background for revival of peace talks.