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PESHAWAR: A delegation from the Qatar Office of the Afghan Taliban arrived in Islamabad last week to kick-start the long-stalled intra-Afghan peace talks, but failed to break the ice, sources told Dawn.

The delegation, which included Shababuddin Dilawar and Malawi Rasool, came from Qatar to explore prospects of resuming talks, but the sources said the Taliban remained unmoved.

“They are sticking to their past stance. They want to negotiate with the US through the Qatar Office, but refused to negotiate with the Afghan government.”

The sources said that while Pakistan supported and encouraged the Taliban to resume talks in Afghanistan, it avoided engaging with the Taliban in the wake of current strained relations with Washington.

The Taliban delegation arrived in Islamabad a week after representatives of a breakaway faction of the Afghan Taliban held a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, with Hezb-i-Islami leaders.

The Afghan Taliban had denied sending a delegation to Turkey and blamed intelligence agencies for damaging and defaming the real peace process in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has come under tremendous pressure from Washington in recent weeks either to take action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network or bring them to the negotiating table.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2018