KARACHI: A high-ranking peace delegation from Kabul met former Afghan Taliban No. 2 Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Islamabad to kick-start the Afghan peace process, senior Pakistani officials told Dawn.com on Friday.
A five-member delegation of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) led by its Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani visited Pakistan from November 19 to 21.
Highly placed officials confirmed that during the meeting, which lasted almost three hours, Baradar handed a special message from the Taliban shura (council) to the delegation representing Afghanistan's High Peace Council.
The High Peace Council is the Afghan body charged with opening negotiations with Taliban insurgents as US-led Nato forces prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of next year. The delegation was headed by Salahuddin Rabbani, son of slain former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, and also comprised its secretary general Masoom Stanekzai and Asadullah Wafa.
Baradar, arrested in 2010, was freed from jail in Pakistan in September as part of efforts to boost Afghanistan's peace process, but since his “release” it appears he has been kept under house arrest by the Pakistanis.
The highly-placed sources, who requested to remain anonymous, said that Baradar was flown from Karachi to Islamabad for the special meeting.
Afghan officials believe Baradar could encourage Taliban leaders to seek a negotiated settlement to end the 12-year insurgency in the war-torn country.
According to an official press release from the Pakistani foreign ministry on Thursday, the five-member Afghan peace delegation met with Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and also called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“The discussions focused on efforts for the promotion of peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” said the foreign office, adding that the visit was “part of Pakistan’s continuing engagement with HPC for the facilitation of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will visit Afghanistan on Nov 30 for further discussions on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.