In a major bilateral development, Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to form a joint peace commission to reach out to Afghan Taliban insurgents allegedly based in North Waziristan to negotiate a peace settlement.
A formal announcement may significantly change the dynamics of over a decade-old war in the region. The talks are expected to take place during a visit by Salauddin Rabbani, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council, to Pakistan next month.
Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Mohammad Umer Daudzai on Monday confirmed both Islamabad and Kabul were finalising details of the proposed joint peace commission at diplomatic and political levels. He said Salauddin, the son of slain former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, would hold crucial talks with Pakistani political as well as military leaders to revive what was envisaged during his father’s visit to Islamabad last year.
Burhanuddin was killed when a bomber detonated the explosives hidden in his turban at the former’s residence in Kabul’s highly fortified diplomatic zone last September.
Pakistan invited Salauddin to Islamabad as soon as he stepped into his father’s shoes, but the new peace envoy accepted the invitation only this month when Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf toured Kabul for a day.
According to officials at the foreign ministry, the HPC members will represent Afghan’s side in the integrated peace commission whereas Pakistan is expected to involve tribal elders and Pakhtun politicians.
Pakistan will call back members who were part of an Afghan Loya Jirga held in August 2007 in Kabul to seek a joint strategy to make peace with the Taliban.
Former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and leader of Pakhtuns in Balochistan Mahmoud Khan Achakzai were prominent among those who attended the event in Kabul as representatives of Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.