Pakistan achieves yet another major diplomatic success

Pakistan achieves yet another major diplomatic success

ISLAMABAD - In a major diplomatic success for Pakistan, the Afghan government and the Taliban have agreed for peace talks, officials said on Tuesday.

The development came after this week’s “productive meetings” between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and the Afghan leadership including President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul.

Pakistan had convinced both the sides to hold talks for the sake of peace in the country and the region, The Nation has reported.

“It’s a huge success for Pakistan. We don’t know when the talks will be formally held but they have taken a step forward. They (the Afghan government and the Taliban) have agreed for peace talks. They will discuss terms and conditions in the coming days,” said one official.

Another official said Pakistan deserved a credit for ‘concrete steps’ for the peace process in Afghanistan. “It’s good that Afghanistan is also acknowledging our efforts,” he remarked.

After the meeting with Afghan leaders on December 24, Foreign Minister Qureshi had said he had “productive meetings” over the peace process with the Taliban.

“I’ve had productive meetings with the Afghan leadership this morning,” Qureshi wrote on Twitter. “The peace process is making positive headway.”

Qureshi met Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and President Ashraf Ghani in the first stop of his three-day tour of four countries which also included Iran, China, and Russia. He had completed talks with the Chinese counterpart yesterday and will fly to Russia for more talks in Moscow.

Salahuddin Rabbani said on Twitter that he discussed “issues of great importance” with Qureshi.

Earlier, the Taliban had refused to enter into dialogue with the Afghan government’s representatives. However, ‘acknowledging’ Pakistan’s diplomatic move, they have ‘conditionally’ agreed to negotiate with the government.

The Taliban have asked for establishment of caretaker government and the formulation of a committee, in which representatives from their side would put forward their perspective of the setup. Besides, they have asked for an immediate release of some of their prominent leaders. The dialogue process is expected to progress after a response from the Afghan government.