PKONWEB Report (Islamabad) — US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is in Islamabad with an interagency delegation representing departments of defense, state and the National Security Council, as part of his fifth tour to the regional countries for Afghan peace talks.
The US seeks Pakistan’s help for coaxing Taliban back into talks.
Khalilzad on Thursday held talks with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and separately with army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
According to reports, Pakistan and the United States have agreed to push for the ‘intra-Afghan dialogue’ to seek a political solution to the lingering war in Afghanistan.
“Both sides agreed that ultimately the intra-Afghan dialogue would be vital to agree upon the contours of a future Afghan polity where Afghanistan becomes a stable and prosperous country and at peace with its neighbors,” said a Foreign Office statement, even as both sides struggle to convince the insurgents for direct talks with the Kabul administration.
Khalilzad has already visited China and Afghanistan. His visit to Islamabad is aimed at reviewing efforts for bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. Last month, Khalilzad held talks with the Afghan Taliban representatives in Abu Dhabi also involving Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The second round was supposed to take place in Jeddah but Taliban pulled out of the talks over disagreement on the inclusion of Afghan government in the peace process. The Taliban have so far refused to talk to the Afghan government directly, insisting they would only speak to the US.
But Pakistan as well as Saudi Arabia and UAE have been putting pressure on the Taliban to reconsider their decision.
There were also reports that Pakistan is pushing for a meeting between the Afghan Taliban and the US special envoy in Islamabad. The Foreign Office, however, did not confirm if any such effort was made.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, meanwhile, talking to president of the East-West Institute and former US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said: “Pakistan fully supports a political settlement in Afghanistan which is the only viable option to end this conflict.”
Mr Khan emphasized the need for ensuring regional security so that economic progress could take place.
Mr Munter said he continued to advocate strong relationship between Islamabad and Washington as Pakistan was an important country of the region and critical to US national security objectives.
Army chief Gen. Bajwa told Khalilzad that peace in Afghanistan is important for Pakistan, and assured him of continued efforts for bringing peace in the region.
Pakistan and the US are said to be taking the Afghan peace process forward as a shared responsibility.