Pakistan has invited the new head of the Afghanistan High Peace Council Salahuddin Rabbani for a visit this year, diplomatic officials said on Thursday.
Salahuddin, the son of slain former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, is expected in Islamabad during the latter half of this year, the officials said.
The Afghan High Peace Council is spearheading efforts aimed at negotiating with the Taliban.
He replaced his father who was assassinated by a Taliban bomber last September in an incident that caused ripples in Pak-Afghan relations as Kabul blamed elements within the Pakistani intelligence for orchestrating the assassination.
“We want engagement… that is why the invitation has been extended to Salauddin,” said a top official at the foreign ministry.
Official said no dates had so far been finalised for the visit but he was expected to travel to Islamabad any time between July and September this year.
Sources said President Asif Ali Zardari had asked his Afghan counterpart to send the new chief of the peace body to Pakistan when the two leaders met in the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Kabul this weekend.
“We want to pick up with the son exactly from where the father had left. It is in the best interests of both the countries,” said the official.
Like his father did, Salahuddin is expected to meet Pakistan’s top political and military leaders as well as key players who might have a role in Afghanistan when the negotiations for the withdrawal of western troops enter into the final phase.
‘Haqqani network behind Afghan attacks’
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said on Thursday there was “no question” that the Haqqani network mounted attacks on Kabul and other areas over the weekend, and reiterated a long-standing demand that Pakistan go after the group. The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks which lasted 18 hours and left 11 security personnel and four civilians dead.
“There is no question in our mind that the Haqqanis were responsible for these attacks,” Ambassador Crocker told reporters. “They’re not made in Afghanistan. They’re made in Miramshah in Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2012.