KABUL: Pakistan has made overtures to Afghanistan to resume talks over the Taliban which broke down following the assassination of Kabul’s chief peace envoy, an Afghan official said on Sunday.
“After Pakistan expressed readiness, the Afghan government has also agreed to resume the talks with Pakistan over the Taliban,” Esmael Qasimyar, a senior member of the Afghan government-appointed High Peace Council, told AFP.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused Pakistan of responsibility for the murder of peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani in September and last month he said Pakistan was sabotaging all negotiations with the Taliban.
A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Pakistan had recently sent a message through the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad saying that “Pakistan is willing to resume contacts and talks with Afghanistan”.
He said Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, was also planning to visit Afghanistan, but no dates had been set. Asked for comment, Karzai’s spokesperson Aimal Faizi said: “Pakistan plays a key role in talks because the militants’ leadership is believed to be in Pakistan.
“We emphasise on good relations with Pakistan and hope that our relations improve, and we hope with the help of Pakistan our peace talks will resume.”
Hekmatyar ready for talks
The leader of Afghanistan’s second-biggest insurgent group said in an interview published Sunday that he was ready for “meaningful talks” with all parties to end the decade-long war.
The statement by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of Hezb-i-Islami, comes after an announcement by the the Taliban that they will open
a political office in Qatar ahead of possible talks with the US.
But Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister, was dismissive of the results of contacts he said Hezb-i-Islami had already had with Washington and the government of President Karzai.
“We held talks with Kabul government as well as with the Americans on different occasions, but did not receive any clear, acceptable and realistic plan from them worth mentioning,” he told the Afghan Islamic Press news agency.
“The Kabul government is powerless and the Americans have no plan acceptable to the Afghan nation and the mujahedeen.”
Any negotiations should “pave (the) way for an agreed plan for the unconditional withdrawal of the foreign forces, guaranteeing Afghanistan’s independence, Afghans’ right to decide their fate and their national integrity,” he said.
Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP nearly two weeks ago that a delegation representing the group had travelled to Kabul and met the president “in a good atmosphere, and the results were good”.
A palace official told AFP that Hekmatyar’s delegation included Ghairat Baheer, one of his main lieutenants, and that after meeting Karzai they met US embassy officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2012.