Press Trust of india

High-level Taliban delegation arrives in Pak for Afghan peace process

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Islamabad:  A high-level delegation from the Taliban’s political office in Doha arrived in Pakistan on Monday to discuss the way forward in the Afghan peace process with the Pakistani leadership.

The delegation comprising Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the Afghan Taliban’s political office in Doha, is here to discuss the Afghan peace process with the Pakistani leadership at the invitation of the country’s foreign office, Geo News reported.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said that he would meet with the delegation on Tuesday, the report said.

On Sunday, foreign office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri told The Express Tribune that: “Yes, we have invited the Afghan Taliban delegation to visit Pakistan to discuss the way forward in the Afghan peace process”.

The Afghan Taliban spokesperson also confirmed that a delegation led by Mullah Baradar would be visiting Islamabad and other capitals to discuss the Afghan peace efforts.

This will be 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.

The visit of the Afghan delegation comes as preparations are being made to kick start the next phase of Afghan peace process, which is the intra-Afghan talks.

The intra-Afghan dialogue has been delayed for months because of differences between the Afghan government and the Taliban over the release of Taliban prisoners.

Recently, the final hurdle was removed when Afghan Loya Jirga – tribal grand assembly – endorsed President Ashraf Ghani’s move to free the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners.

The development has now paved the way for the much-awaited intra-Afghan dialogue, media reports said.

The first round is expected to take place in Doha, capital of Qatar.

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