ISLAMABAD: As neither side in the Afghan conflict seem to make peace overtures, Pakistan has decided to step in to contain the fallout of the conflict and push warring Afghan factions towards lasting peace in the war-torn country to achieve political settlement and stability in the region.
In diplomatic push, the Pakistan envoy to Kabul, Mansoor Ahmed Khan, has been tasked with rolling out invites to the leaders of various Afghan factions, including the Taliban, for a meeting that would likely be held in Islamabad before the next week. The envoy has met several Afghan politicians over the past week.
Sources said the meeting could take place as early as this weekend subject to necessary approvals from the Afghan government regarding its delegation. If held, the meeting will be attended by those Afghan leaders and the Taliban commanders who are part of the Doha peace process. These leaders include Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, and former president Hamid Karzai, ex-vice president Yunus Qanooni, High Peace Council Chairman Karim Khalili, People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan founder Mohammad Mohaqiq, presidential adviser Salam Rahimi, former warlords Abdul Rashid Dostum and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, Enayatullah Baligh and Fatima Gailani.
On the Taliban side, the members of the military commission are to likely participate in the high-stakes meeting. The military commission is the one that plans and executes offences and it is headed by Mullah Yaqoob, the son of Mullah Omar. At a time where Taliban have an upper hand and seem to be making progress, a meeting with the military commission to iron out issues would entail progress towards a negotiated settlement
The peace overtures by Islamabad came at a time when Taliban fighters have regained control of over 200 districts, including important border crossings — Iran, Tajikistan, and Pakistan — while the Afghan government is left with over 100 districts in its control. The latest Taliban offensive began soon after the announcement that the US troops will leave the country by September 11.
As violence flares in Afghanistan, the Ashraf Ghani administration has pointed fingers at the Pakistan government for alleged aiding the Taliban. Islamabad, however, says it has no favourites in Afghanistan and it will be willing to support whoever comes to power with people’s support. Amid this blame, the potential meeting is also being seen by observers as an attempt counter to the anti-Pakistan politicians in Afghanistan.