Ghani seeks pro-active Pakistan role in Afghan peace process

28.06.2019

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday urged Pakistan to use its influence to secure direct talks between his administration and Taliban insurgents as global efforts to seek a political settlement to the conflict gathered momentum.

Ghani met Pakistani leaders including Prime Minister Imran Khan during a rare visit to Islamabad to reset ties between estranged neighbours after years of mistrust and accusations by both sides of using Islamist militants as proxies.

"It was a productive interaction with Afghan officials," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters.

Pakistan's powerful military chief General Qamar Bajwa was part of the security delegation discussing how the two countries could cooperate to curtail cross-border movement of Islamist militants, officials said.

The visit comes just days before a new round of talks between the U.S. and Taliban are scheduled to kick off on Saturday.  The U.S. and Taliban have been meeting since last year in the hope of finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict.

"Ghani wants us to make sure that the Taliban talks to his government as well before reaching any peace deal with Americans," a Pakistani official familiar with the meetings said, on condition of anonymity.

Pakistan is believed to have a lot of influence on the Afghan Taliban, most of whom allegedly live in the country's south-western province of Baluchistan with their families.

Afghanistan has long accused Islamabad of providing support to Taliban militants fighting the Afghan government and international forces. Pakistan rejects this accusation.

Security analysts like Fida Khan said the visit would help in bridging the trust gap between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Higher the level of trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan, greater are chances of the success of peace efforts," Khan added.   (dpa)

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