ISLAMABAD: Afghan peace negotiators, who were in Pakistan to meet with senior Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, wrapped up the successful trip on Thursday, an Afghan source privy to the visit told The Express Tribune.
“I can confirm the meeting with Mullah Baradar has taken place,” a source said, requesting not to be identified since he was not authorised to speak to the media.
“I would say that the Peace Council achieved its main objective to see Mullah Baradar,” the source added.
The Afghan negotiators had arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday on a planned two day trip. But that trip was extended by a day and a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif included in the schedule.
Both sides had initially avoided confirming if members of the High Peace Council had met with the Taliban leader, the main objective of the visit.
On Thursday, the last day of the trip, Chairman of the Peace Council Salahuddin Rabbani won more support for the fragile peace process from Nawaz, an Afghan source privy to the meeting told The Express Tribune.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the delegation that he will soon visit Kabul for more talks on Pakistan’s role in the peace process,” sources said.
The visit of the peace council took place after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepted a request by Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the trilateral summit hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron in London last month.
Afghan negotiators had arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday on what was initially a two-day visit. However, the visit was kept a secret from the media until Wednesday.
The delegation includes Rabbani, Asadullah Wafa, a member of the council, Masoom Stanakzai, secretary to the peace council, and officials from the Afghan Interior and Foreign Ministries.
Mullah Baradar had previously refused to meet Afghan officials when he was requested during his detention, a Taliban official told The Express Tribune, while quoting some freed Taliban prisoners who had shared their time in Pakistani detention with Baradar. The Taliban official, however, said he is unaware if any meeting has taken place during the peace council’s visit.
Pakistan had announced in September the release of Mullah Baradar to facilitate the Afghan peace process. However the Afghan Taliban and Baradar’s family sources say he has yet to rejoin his family.
Karzai had welcomed Baradar’s release and always insisted for complete freedom for him and his specific address for a direct access of the peace council to the Taliban leader.
Afghan Taliban say none of Taliban detainees can represent the group.
Pakistan has freed nearly 40 Afghan Taliban detainees since November to encourage them to join peace process. However, none of the freed Taliban have showed a willingness to talk to Karzai’s government, Afghan and Taliban officials say.