US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and the commander of Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan met with Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday to discuss the ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks.
During the meeting held at the army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, the two sides discussed “matters related to mutual interest, peace and stability in the region, Pak-Afghan Border management and current developments in Afghan peace process,” according to a statement from the military.
Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq also attended the meeting.
“The visiting dignitaries appreciated the positive role being played by Pakistan for Afghan peace process,” the statement said, offering no further details.
This was Khalilzad’s second visit to Islamabad in less than a month, following the rare direct talks between the warring Taliban and Kabul government in Doha last month.
In December 2018, Pakistan had also arranged direct talks between Washington and the Taliban, paving the way for the Doha peace deal between the two sides.
Under the agreement, the US committed to withdraw all foreign forces from Afghanistan by July 2021.
Pakistan also facilitated the landmark first round of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Islamabad in July 2015. The process broke down after the Taliban announced the death of their long-time leader Mullah Omar, triggering a bitter internal power struggle.
It was further hampered by the killing of Omer’s successor Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in a US drone strike on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in 2016.
US President Donald Trump last year stepped up efforts to resume the long-stalled process, seeking Pakistan’s help to end Washington’s longest war in recent history.
Afghans’ decades-old dependence on Pakistan in terms of business, education and health always gives Islamabad a degree of influence over different Afghan groups, mainly the Pashtun population.
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