Talks with Taliban: Afghan president’s special envoy to arrive today

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ISLAMABAD: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Representative on Regional Affairs for Consensus on Peace Omar Daudzai will arrive in Islamabad today (Tuesday) to meet with the Pakistani leadership and discuss the ongoing talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban.

During the four-day visit that will conclude on January 11, Daudzai will hold delegation level talks in the Foreign Office as well as a one-on-one meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

According to diplomatic sources, Daudzai will discuss with Pakistan officials the US-Taliban talks in the UAE and Qatar. Pakistan was not directly involved in these rounds of talks between the two rivals but did act as a facilitator.

Sources said now the US as well as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China are trying to engage Pakistan again.

The recent change in attitude of the US President Donald Trump and the Pentagon suggests that the US wants to take Pakistan into confidence ahead of the US possible withdrawal from Afghanistan

Foreign Minister Qureshi went to Qatar last month on an important mission and Afghan President’s representative is coming to Pakistan to push this agenda, sources said.

Pakistan and the US are expected to make higher level diplomatic contacts in the wake of this visit to take the process forward. The Foreign Office is also preparing for these high level contacts.

According to sources, a new era of dialogue on political facilitation in Afghanistan and eviction of the US troops is to begin.  Due to these talks, the Afghan elections have already been delayed.

The US President Donald Trump has announced calling back US troops from Afghanistan and Syria. Till December 2019, Trump has to fulfill the promise made to his nation.

However, the US top leadership is opposing eviction of the US troops from Afghanistan under these conditions and the US secretary of defence Jim Mattis has already paid off for this opposition.

Diplomatic sources say Pakistan does not agree with a US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan without establishing a stable police system and institutions. Pakistan wishes to first bring stability in Afghanistan and believes that Afghanistan should not be left the way it was ignored after end of the Cold War.

The US annually spends $50 billion on Afghanistan. However, if the US stops this aid it will become difficult for Afghan government to sustain and the country will once again fall into the hands of warring factions.

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