Head of Afghan peace council due in Pakistan next week

Head of Afghan peace council due in Pakistan next week

 PESHAWAR: The head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, Mohammad Daudzai, will arrive in Pakistan next week to meet with senior Pakistani officials and push forward peace talks with the Taliban, his spokesperson said on Wednesday. 

Afghanistan and the US have long pushed Pakistan to use its influence with the Taliban to bring them to the table for talks to end the 17-year war. 

Sayed Ihsan Taheri, council spokesman, told Arab News that Daudzai would be in Pakistan “next week to hold talks with Pakistani officials on regional issues,” but declined to specify an exact date.  

Taheri said Daudzai would exchange views with Pakistani officials regarding developments in Taliban peace talks and his government’s position on the latest efforts to bring the militants to the negotiating table. 

“Pakistan can prove significant in promoting peace parlays,” Taheri said.

Zardasht Shams, the deputy head of mission at the Afghan embassy in Islamabad, told Arab News he had no details yet of Daudzai’s visit.

“A date for the meeting has yet to be set,” he said.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be reached for comment. 

Daudzai’s visit comes amid intensified efforts towards peace negotiations in Afghanistan. 

Last month, representatives from the Taliban, the US and regional countries met for talks in the UAE. So far, the Taliban has refused to hold formal talks with the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate foreign-appointed regime. 

The groups says it will first reach an agreement with the US, which it sees as the main force in Afghanistan since US-led forces toppled the Taliban government in 2001.

The US, on the other hand, insists any final settlement must be led by the Afghans.

Representatives from the Taliban’s Qatar office have recently attended peace talks in China, Germany, France and other countries. Last Sunday, Iran confirmed a Taliban delegation visited Tehran to advance peace talks in the neighboring country. 

Hikmat Safi, an advisor to Afghanistan’s Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, said Daudzai’s planned visit to Islamabad was of paramount importance because Afghan peace talks had recently gained considerable momentum. He said Afghans expected a “ceasefire” in the country after the meeting scheduled between the Taliban and the US in Saudi Arabia next month. 

Last week, the Taliban rejected Kabul’s offer of talks in Saudi Arabia.

The Pakistan army has thrown its support behind the latest US efforts for a political settlement and urged Washington to retain Kabul as a friend in the region rather than a “failure.”

“We will facilitate talks as much as we can,” Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, army spokesman, told reporters last month.

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