Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa called upon Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani during a visit to the Gulf country, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said on Tuesday.
Prominent among the discussions held between the two included matters related to achieving a negotiated end to the 17-year Afghanistan conflict, with the emir appreciating "Pakistan’s efforts and the positive role being played by [it] for regional stability including [in] Afghanistan", according to the military's media wing.
The army chief thanked Al-Thani for "Qatar’s continued support towards a negotiated political settlement for peace in Afghanistan", the statement added. The duo also discussed measures to enhance bilateral security cooperation.
According to ISPR, Gen Bajwa also held a meeting with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.
The Qatari premier expressed the desire to diversify and broaden cooperation between the countries, including in the realm of security. The army chief "assured him of Pakistan’s full cooperation in all mutual undertakings", the press release said.
During his visit, Gen Bajwa also attended a parade in connection with the National Day of Qatar.
The army chief's visit to Qatar comes a day after United States diplomats and Afghan Taliban representatives met in the United Arab Emirates for the first round of talks facilitated by Pakistan on finding a negotiated settlement of the war in Afghanistan.
The meeting in Abu Dhabi was also attended by officials from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
It was the third meeting between the Taliban and US officials since the appointment of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as US special envoy for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Their meeting last month had continued for three days.
However, it was the first meeting sponsored by Islamabad and also the first outside Qatar's capital Doha, which hosts Taliban’s political office and was the venue of the earlier two rounds. It is believed that the latest meeting was convened outside Qatar to underscore Pakistan’s role in arranging it and at the same time allowing participation of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, both of whom had last year cut diplomatic ties with Doha.
Ambassador Khalilzad led the US side, whereas Taliban were represented at the talks by their ‘political negotiators’ from Qatar office.
The Afghan government was not represented at Monday’s meeting because Taliban have stood firmly on not talking to the Afghan government, whom they call the puppet regime, and insisted on talking directly to the US.
Kabul, despite not getting a seat at the talks, is seeing the process positively. The Washington Post quoted Shah Hussain Murtazawi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, as having said that the US-Taliban meeting was being coordinated with the Afghan government. “The Afghan government supports any effort and action that paves the way for an Afghan-led peace process,” he said.