Peace brokers from Kabul to visit Islamabad

January 1, 2011

Pakistan and Afghanistan appear to have stepped up efforts for peace-making with the Taliban, as the Afghan Peace Council formed to seek reconciliation with the insurgents is due to visit Islamabad next week.

The 70-member High Council for Peace representing a broad spectrum of Afghan society includes two former Presidents, Burhanudin Rabbani and Sibghatullah Mujadadi, tribal leaders, former members of the Taliban regime that ruled the country for six years, ex-members of insurgent group Hezbi Islami and eight women.
The council was formed in September this year by Afghan President Hamid Karzai as part of his efforts to seek a negotiated settlement for the nine-year-old war in Afghanistan.
This will be the first visit of the council to Pakistan, which is believed to have a vital role in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table.
“We are looking forward to intensive discussions with the delegation and Prof Buhranuddin Rabbani,” said the Foreign Office Spokesman at his weekly briefing on Thursday. The delegation arrives in Islamabad on January 5.
Abdul Basit said that council members will have three-day deliberations with the Pakistani officials and other concerned people.
“Pakistan will continue to support and help in whatever way the Afghanistan government wants us to help. We are committed to supporting Afghanistan-led efforts towards reconciliation and reintegration. Pakistan will continue to engage actively in trilateral and quadrilateral processes involving Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, U.S., Russia and Tajikistan,” he added.
The visit of the Afghan Peace Council is being seen as very significant, as the Karzai administration is expected to formally ask Pakistan to play its role in ending bloodshed in the war-torn country.
Pakistan has already extended support to a proposal that seeks a Taliban office in a neutral country in order to open talks with the insurgents led by Mullah Omar.
Experts are of the view that Islamabad still has considerable influence on the Afghan Taliban and any political settlement will be incomplete without its involvement.
Despite efforts by the Karzai administration, there is little progress on the ground yet. There have been indirect contacts but so far top Taliban leaders refrained from holding direct talks with the Karzai government.
(Source: Express Tribune)