LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is likely to visit Kabul next week to meet President Hamid Karzai in a bid to involve him effectively in efforts to make the Afghan Taliban agree to holding talks for peace in the region.
“We have learnt through reliable sources that Mr Sharif is scheduled to visit Afghanistan next week where he will primarily discuss with Mr Karzai the core issues relating to talks with Taliban,” Muhammad Asim Makhdoom, Central Information Secretary of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Samiul Haq), told Dawn on Friday.
Maulana Samiul Haq had been formally contacted and requested by Mr Sharif to use his influence in bringing Taliban to the negotiating table.
PML-N leader Senator Tariq Azeem confirmed that the prime minister might visit Kabul soon.
“Yes, the prime minister has formally accepted the invitation extended by Mr Karzai recently. He (Mian Sahib) has decided to go there and dates of the visit are yet to be confirmed,” Mr Azeem added. The two leaders, he said, would discuss various issues, including talks with Taliban, in a broader spectrum.
The JUI-S leader said that although Mr Sharif had earlier requested Maulana Sami to play a role in arranging talks between Taliban and the Pakistan government, but later kept quiet.
In the meanwhile, the US forces killed Waliur Rehman, an important leader of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, in a drone attack which, he said, shook Taliban’s trust in the Pakistani initiative.
He said his party firmly believed that the Taliban could be brought to the negotiating table if the PML-N government succeeded in getting the US drone attacks stopped immediately.
“Since the US and Pakistan are seeking talks with the Taliban, we will have to ensure that drone attacks are stopped first. Therefore, the new government will have to be serious if it really wants to resolve the issue,” Mr Makhdoom said.
Talking to Dawn, JUI chief Maulana Samiul Haq said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was a helpless man and not in a position to resolve the issue.
“In this case the actual party are Americans and Mr Sharif should talk to them if he is really interested in resolving the issue. Mr Karzai has no power to take a decision on such important issues,” he said.
He said the killing of Waliur Rehman in a US drone attack had shattered the trust of the Taliban leaders and the PML-N government would have to reassure them by forcing the US to stop drone attacks before any talks could be held.