ISLAMABAD: Pakistan welcomed talks between the Afghan Taliban and members of a Kabul-backed negotiators in Qatar where both sides sat face-to-face for a second day on Sunday to share proposals on reconciliation.
“We support any formal or informal talks that lead to reconciliation in Afghanistan,” Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry told The Express Tribune at the Foreign Office when asked about Pakistan’s response to the conference in Qatar.
“Pakistan backs every gathering aimed at achieving the goal of the peace in Afghanistan,” he said.
The meeting was organised by the Canadian-based Pugwash, a group that claims to promote dialogues.
A Taliban source from Qatar told The Express Tribune on Sunday that head of the eight-member Taliban delegation, Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, read out a written statement in the conference that could also be released to the media.
The Taliban spokesman says participation in the Qatar conference “should not be misconstrued as peace or negotiation talks.”
A 20-member delegation from Afghanistan including members of the High Peace Council is attending the conference which has assumed importance at a time when Taliban have refused to join the intra-Afghan dialogue. The peace council members include its spokesperson Maulvi Shehzada Shahid and a senior member Attaulah Ludin.
A two-member team of Hizb-e-Islami (Hekmatyar), the second largest resistance movement in Afghanistan, is also part of the Qatar talks.
The official Qatar News Agency has described the meeting as “reconciliation” talks.
“The dialogue will take place through open discussions about the Afghan reconciliation between all parties in Afghanistan,” the agency reported.
It is third time the Taliban are attending a conference along with the representatives of the Afghan government. The Taliban political council’s members had earlier attended similar meetings in France and Japan but did not hold direct talks with the Afghan regime.