Members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council wound up their three-day tour of Pakistan on a high note, gaining access to senior Taliban leader Mullah Ghani Baradar and then meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“The Peace Council achieved its main objective to see Mullah Baradar,” an Afghan source told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.
However, both Pakistani and Afghan officials remained tight-lipped about the meeting.
Headed by Salahuddin Rabbani, the son of slain former chief Burhanuddin, the four-member team met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on (Thursday) to discuss regional security and the Afghan peace process, as well as Pak-Afghan cooperation after the withdrawal of Nato forces.
The delegation also expressed interest in learning about Pakistan’s approach towards Baradar, as well as the initiation of peace negotiations with the Taliban.
According to one source, Nawaz told the delegation that Baradar could be engaged for negotiations. “Mullah Baradar can be important for peace negotiations, but these decisions will be taken by the National Security Council under the auspices of the military, not the civilian government,” said the source, citing remarks allegedly made by the premier.
Mullah Baradar had previously refused to meet Afghan officials when he was requested during his detention, a Taliban official said, quoting some freed Taliban prisoners who had shared their time in detention with Baradar.
One-sided effort is futile: Nawaz
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged Afghan delegates to reciprocate Pakistan’s efforts of maintaining peace on the Pak-Afghan border.
“For decades it has been observed that border clashes roll back the entire effort rendered by Pakistan and Afghanistan,” a source quoted the premier as stating to the peace negotiators. “A one-sided effort won’t bring any positive outcome; it should be on both sides but with trust and earnestness.”
In an official statement, Nawaz said that Pakistan is extending full cooperation for peace, as a stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of both countries. The delegation in the federal capital was briefed about Nawaz’s recent meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
One Afghan diplomat shared that the council made Afghanistan’s demand that all Taliban prisoners be handed over to the High Peace Council clear to Nawaz. He also said that the transfer would avoid hurdles in the peace negotiations between the two countries.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the delegation that he will soon visit Kabul for more talks on Pakistan’s role in the peace process,” an Afghan official said. The visit comes after Nawaz accepted a proposal by Karzai at the trilateral summit hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron in London last month, members of the High Peace Council be allowed to meet.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2013.
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