Pakistan for reduction in Afghan violence to boost peace process

Islamabad, Dec 18 (efe-epa).- Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday called for a reduction in Afghanistan violence after meeting with a Taliban delegation currently on a visit to Islamabad.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the chief negotiator of the insurgents, is leading the Taliban delegation to Pakistan amid consultations during a break in Afghan peace talks.

“The prime minister expressed concern over the high level of violence and called on all sides for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

It was the first officially announced meeting between a Pakistani prime minister and a Taliban leader since the conflict in Afghanistan began in 2001.

The meeting focused on the Afghan peace process and the Pakistani authorities once again stressed their support for a “peaceful, stable, united, independent, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan.”

Khan reiterated that there was no military solution to the war in Afghanistan and that only intra-Afghan peace negotiations would achieve the goal.

It was the third official trip to Islamabad for Baradar, who spent eight years in prison in Pakistan.

Afghanistan has for years accused Pakistan of harboring and providing support to the Taliban. Islamabad has always denied the allegations.

The peace talks, which kicked off on Sept 12 in Doha, had faced a major hurdle as the two sides were unable to reach a consensus on the basic framework for discussions.

The Afghan government and Taliban negotiators announced on Dec 2 that they had reached a deal to move forward with bilateral peace talks.

The agreement allows the negotiators to work on the agenda and rules for talks and take critical issues up for discussions.

The negotiations will resume in Qatar on Jan.5.

The United States has brokered the intra-Afghan negotiations after signing a peace agreement with the Taliban in February this year.

The Afghan government and Taliban representatives are negotiating an end to the Afghan war that has been raging since 2001 when the US invaded the country.

Washington had agreed for a full withdrawal of troops within 14 months in return for security guarantees that the Taliban would not use the Afghan soil for attacks against foreign countries, particularly the US.

Moreover, the Taliban also promised not to launch large-scale attacks in urban areas, including the district centers.

However, a spate of recent attacks had raised concerns about the Taliban’s inability to keep their promises, while the incidents were seen as tactics to gain leverage in the negotiations.

The United States announced last Sunday that it has begun to reduce its troops from the current 4,500 to 2,500, a process that it hopes to complete before next Jan.15. EFE-EPA


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