Khalilzad in Islamabad, seeks revival of Taliban talks

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US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Amb Zalmay Khalilzad arrived on Tuesday for discussions with Pakistani civil and military leadership on reviving peace talks with Afghan Taliban. — Reuters/File
US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Amb Zalmay Khalilzad arrived on Tuesday for discussions with Pakistani civil and military leadership on reviving peace talks with Afghan Taliban. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Amb Zalmay Khalilzad arrived on Tuesday for discussions with Pakistani civil and military leadership on reviving peace talks with Afghan Taliban.

The trip follows voting in the Afghan presidential elections held on Sept 28 that were marred by low turnout and sporadic violence.

Pakistan had, while welcoming the voting in presidential elections, hoped that the new government will enjoy the full mandate to take the stalled peace process forward.

“This is important for ending the 18-year old conflict through an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned negotiated political settlement,” the Foreign Office said vowing to continue to facilitate the new Afghan government in reaching a political settlement of the long-running conflict.

US and Taliban were close to a deal last month when Trump called off a meeting with representatives of insurgent group and Afghan president

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources in the US said that Pakistan was trying to bring Taliban leader Mullah Baradar to Islamabad from Doha on Wednesday (today) for a possible meeting with Mr Khalilzad.

It may take up to three weeks for the counting of the votes in Afghan presidential polls to complete. There are, however, early indications that the process may run into a political row among leading contenders similar to the one witnessed in 2014. Top contenders have already begun making rival claims of victory in polls.

The US and Taliban were close to a deal at the start of last month when President Donald Trump suddenly called off a meeting with representatives of the insurgent group and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David and ended the negotiating process that Amb Khalilzad had been running for a year over a Taliban attack in Kabul that left 12 people, including a US soldier, dead.

Amb Khalilzad later reportedly told Congress members in a classified briefing that the peace deal with the Taliban was dead.

He had also met Prime Minister Imran Khan during his recent visit to New York. He, on that occasion, gave Mr Khan an overview of his yearlong engagement with the Taliban before it went off the rails.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd , 2019