Delegation level talks between Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Foreign Minister formally came to an end on Wednesday afternoon after an extensive meeting lasting nearly three hours.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the one thing that was clear in today’s talks was that in the past 40 years Afghanistan had suffered greatly.
He said he had held detailed talks with the Taliban; three commitments were to be finalised with the delegation and they were all achieved step-wise. He added that the next phase of the intra-Afghan negotiations would be held from January 5, and both sides (Afghan government and Taliban) had expressed their respective preference for the venue.
The Foreign Minister said that Pakistan had reiterated that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem. Only political solutions can resolve the decade-long crisis.
“We also spoke about negotiations and on Reduction in Violence (RiV). We all want reduction in violence and for it to lead to a ceasefire, however, the responsibility for RiV does not only lie with the Taliban.”
Talking about the repatriation of displaced Afghan refugees Qureshi said, “if there is peace only then can there be a return of refugees. We would want a comprehensive and inclusive approach; the international community cannot shy away from Afghanistan.”
The Foreign Minister added that the Taliban acknowledged Pakistan’s role on the peace process and that they thanked Pakistan for looking after Afghan refugees.
“The Taliban are under agreement that violence is not in favour for Afghanistan and that is why they want to move forward with the talks.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar Mullah Baradar Akhund, along with an eight-member delegation arrived in Pakistan for a three-day visit.
During this visit, the Afghan Taliban delegation will meet with PM Imran Khan and hold talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as well as other senior government officials regarding the peace talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The visitors will discuss issues of mutual interest, especially the Afghan refugees’ problems and the issues faced by the traders of the neighbouring country.
Taliban Political Commission’s delegation arrived at New Islamabad International Airport (IIA) this morning from Doha on flight QR-632. Senior Pakistani government officials welcomed and received the delegation and escorted them under tight security.
The latest visit is the third visit of Mullah Baradar to Pakistan and this trip comes as Taliban and Afghan government took a 20-day break in their talks taking place in Doha.
After talks which lasted for months, the two sides recently agreed on the rules of engagements for the upcoming phase of talks on Afghanistan’s political future and the comprehensive ceasefire. The delegation’s visit comes two days after the US special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad visited the federal capital and had a meeting with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Zalmay Khalilzad showed concern over the break-in talks and said that the current situation warranted urgent steps to reach a peace deal. He hoped that the intra-Afghan talks would resume on January 5.
The push for seeking a peace deal continues despite the fact that US President Trump lost the elections. New American President Joe Biden is likely to continue with the peace efforts but seeks more concessions from the Afghan Taliban particularly on the ceasefire.