Afghan Taliban say ready to meet PM Imran

Will visit Pakistan if given formal invitation, says militant group’s spokesperson in Doha

​ Our Correspondent July 25, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban are ready to send their delegation to Pakistan for a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan if Islamabad extends formal invitation, the insurgent group that has been fighting against the US and Washington backed Kabul administration since 2001 announced on Thursday.

“Pakistan is our neighbouring and Muslim country. We will definitely visit Pakistan if we are given formal invitation,” Sohail Shahin, spokesperson of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha, told BBC Urdu.

“Taliban representatives frequently undertake visits to neighbouring and regional countries,” the spokesperson added. The militant group is currently holding talks with the US in Doha to find a political solution to the 18 year long war.

The statement from Taliban came just a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan completed a ‘successful’ visit to the US. During his three-day visit, Afghan endgame remained on top of the agenda.

While the US acknowledged Pakistan’s role in facilitating the ongoing talks, the Trump administration now wants Islamabad to persuade Taliban for permanent ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue.

Imran, before wrapping up the all-important visit to Washington, said he assured President Trump that Pakistan would do ‘whatever in its power to facilitate the Afghan peace process.’

He also indicated that he would meet the Afghan Taliban to convince them for a peace deal.

In February, a Taliban delegation was to visit Islamabad for a meeting with Prime Minister Imran. The visit, however, was cancelled at the last minute after reservations expressed by Afghan government.

PM visit ‘reset Pak-US ties’

Meanwhile, foreign office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal termed the outcome of the PM’s visit to Washington as beyond Pakistan’s expectations.

“The visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan has brought a new impetus in relations between Pakistan and USA. The ties between the two countries have been reset,” Faisal told reporters at the weekly briefing.

He said it was indeed a “very positive and successful visit.”  Relations between Pakistan and US were stalled at least since 2015, he admitted.

“I would reiterate that the intent to enhance bilateral relations between Pakistan and the US has been expressed and now the relevant mechanisms will begin functioning to work out details of implementation,” the spokesperson added.

On uproar in India after President Trump’s claim that Indian PM Narendra Modi recently requested him to mediate on Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the spokesperson urged India and its media to respond “maturely whenever the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is discussed”.

“As you have witnessed that soon after President Trump announced to play a mediatory role, different segments of Indian media started panicking and making all sorts of allegations.

“As I said earlier, the only viable solution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute is through dialogue and diplomacy and full implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions,” Faisal said.


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