Pakistan to push for resumption of Afghan-Taliban talks

Islamabad: Pakistan is likely to persuade Afghanistan to resume talks with the Taliban after their parleys were snapped due to power struggle within the militant group following the death of its chief Mullah Omar.

Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz plans to visit Afghanistan tomorrow to attend the two-day Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA). Diplomatic sources said that he is expected to meet Afghan officials including Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on the sidelines of the conference. “We believe that dialogue is the only way forward and Afghanistan should resume the talks with Taliban instead of indulging in blame-game,” the sources said. Pakistan has said that it supports an “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process” and offered its help in this regard. The peace talks were launched in July when the first round between the two parties was held in Murree near Islamabad but before the scheduled second round on July 31, Afghan official broke the news of Omar’s death.

Taliban this week accepted that their leader died more than two years ago but they wanted to keep the news under the wraps until the drawdown of Western troops. Afghan-Pakistan ties improved after President Ashraf Ghani took over last year but the recent bombings did a lot of damage to the confidence building as Ghani blamed Islamabad for militancy in his country, a charge denied by Pakistan. Pakistan is believed to have links with Afghan Taliban who fled to lawless tribal region of the country after the downfall of their regime in 2001. Analysts believe that new Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor is now in full control of the group after some power struggle within the militant group.


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