Afghan Taliban meet Pakistani officials in Doha, term meeting ‘good’

Published July 2, 2024
Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan Asif Khan Durrani meets with the Afghan interim government in Doha. — Pakistan’s Ambassador to Qatar, Muhemmed Aejaz.
Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan Asif Khan Durrani meets with the Afghan interim government in Doha. — Pakistan’s Ambassador to Qatar, Muhemmed Aejaz.

Leaders of the Afghanistan interim government held a meeting with Pakistani officials in Doha on Monday in what was seen as an effort to ease tension following the announcement of a fresh operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which security officials insist operate from Afghan soil.

Relations between the two neighbouring countries have lately become strained, largely because of the TTP but also due to frequent border skirmishes. Last week, the Afghan defense ministry’s spokesman angrily reacted to Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s remarks when he said that Islamabad could hit TTP hideouts in Afghanistan.

In an apparent move to improve relations between Kabul and Islamabad, the Pakistani mission in Qatar hosted a dinner for the Afghan delegation on the sidelines of the Doha-III conference to discuss bilateral issues.

Zabihullah Mujahid, leader of the Taliban delegation at the Doha conference, described his meeting with Pakistani diplomats as “good” and expressed the hope for developing “positive relations” with Pakistan.

“We had a good meeting with the special representative of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Durrani, and the ambassador and consuls of the country in Qatar,” Mujahid wrote on the X platform on Tuesday. “I am grateful for their hospitality and hope for good and positive relations for both countries.”

On his part, Durrani said both sides discussed the “Doha-III, bilateral and regional issues” during the meeting.

Pakistan’s ambassador in Qatar, Muhemmed Aejaz, who hosted the meeting at his residence, said “Both [sides] remain neighbors and brothers and have a lot in common, including a strong desire for regional peace and security.”

During his speech at the opening session of the Doha-111 conference on June 30, Durrani raised the issue of militancy and urged the Afghan interim government to take action against the TTP and other groups.

Pakistani and Taliban officials also had another interaction in Doha at a quadrilateral meeting along with Uzbekistan and Qatar officials.

“On the sidelines of Doha-III, a quadrilateral meeting between Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Qatar reviewed the Trans-Afghan Railway project to connect Uzbekistan and Pakistan via Afghanistan. The project will effectively connect South & Central Asia,” Ambassador Durrani wrote on X.

Mujahid, who attended the quadrilateral meeting said, “All sides called for early start and completion of the Trans-Afghan Railway project.”

During the meeting, Durrani called for enhanced international engagement with the Afghan interim government and unfreezing Afghanistan’s assets.

Pakistan also highlighted the issue of Afghan refugees and called for creating a conducive environment in Afghanistan for their repatriation.

The meeting was informed that nearly 700,000 Afghans have arrived in Pakistan since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.

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