Pakistan admits contacts with Afghan Taliban

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's special adviser on foreign affairs. File Pic
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s special adviser on foreign affairs. File Pic

A top Pakistan government functionary has admitted that Pakistan government has contacts with Afghan Taliban.

Islamabad, July 22/Nationalturk – Pakistan government has admitted that the country has contacts with Afghanistan Taliban, which is fighting US and Afghan forces after their regime was overthrown is US invasion following 26/11.

“We have some contacts with the Taliban because of the past but we don’t control them,” Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz told reporters during a day-long visit to Kabul yesterday.

He is the first high level top Pakistani government functionary to concede that Pakistan has contacts with Afghan Taliban, which is involved in deadly insurgency against US and Afghan forces in the country.

Denying perceptions that Pakistan controls the Taliban, given that its leaders have presumed sanctuary in Pakistan, Aziz said insisted Islamabad could only help bring about a deal and not impose one.

He said Pakistan had eased the movement of Taliban negotiators and released 26 Taliban detainees at the request of the Afghan government.

He said Pakistan was again prepared to ease the movement of Taliban negotiators and release more Taliban detainees if the Afghan government requests it.

“In the future, we are requested, we can play the same role but in appropriate time and in consultation with other interested parties,” he said.

‘Stable Afghanistan in Pakistan’s own interest’

Aziz was quick to add that said Pakistan has been trying to help jump start the peace process as a stable Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s own interest. “Any peace talks must be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. He said Pakistan would take every step to bring peace in Afghanistan,” he said.

He said Pakistan was ready to help in holding intra-Afghan talks for peace and stability in Afghanistan, if the Afghan leaders asked for it.

During his day-long visit, Aziz held talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul.  He also invited Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to Islamabad to strengthen bilateral relations and help improve strained relations and peace efforts with the Taliban.

‘Karzai accepts invitation to visit Pakistan’

Afghanistan president’s office said today that Karzai has accepted the invitation to visit Pakistan in principle.

However, he  said a high-ranking delegation could visit Pakistan only when the agenda is specified, initial preparations have been made and a serious and effective struggle against terrorism and the peace process are on the top of the agenda.

The efforts by United States and other Western countries to start talks with Afghan Taliban are in disarray after the disastrous opening of a liaison office for the militants in Qatar. A furious Karzai slammed it as an unofficial embassy for a Taliban government-in-exile.

EKarzai’s chief of staff Karim Khorram claimed last week that opening of Taliban office in Qatar was part of a plot to break up Afghanistan, orchestrated by either Pakistan or the United States, the charge denied by both countries.

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Faiz Ahmad / NationalTurk Pakistan News

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