ISLAMABAD / KABUL, Nov 20: Senior Afghan officials arrived in Pakistan to initiate peace talks with the Afghan Taliban following a breakthrough in negotiations during last month’s summit in Britain, officials from both countries said on Wednesday.
The delegation was in Pakistan to meet Taliban’s former No 2 Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a man seen by Kabul as the key to restarting peace talks with the Taliban, said a spokesman for Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, Mohammed Anwar Eshaaqzai.
Mr Eshaaqzai was unable to say if the group had already met Baradar or would do so in coming days.
Baradar has been held in an undisclosed location in Pakistan since the government announced in September that it would release him in order to facilitate the Afghan peace process.
“The Afghan peace council has arrived in Islamabad accompanied by some other foreign and interior ministry officials,” a Pakistani official with knowledge of the peace talks said.
“This is a follow up of what was decided in London and they will meet officials in the ministries of interior and foreign,” the official said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London last month to discuss ways to kickstart the stalled process.
Mr Karzai formed the Afghan High Peace Council in 2010 to pursue a negotiated peace with the Taliban, who have been leading an insurgency since being ousted from power by US-led forces in 2001.
Baradar is a long-time friend of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and Afghanistan believes he is still powerful enough to persuade the insurgents to lay down their weapons and make peace.
He was the Taliban’s deputy leader and one of their most influential commanders until he was arrested in Pakistan in 2010.
Pakistan announced his release last month but Baradar remains in the country under close supervision. —Reuters
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.