After Covert Meetings, Pakistan Set To Invite Afghan Taliban Formally To Islamabad

Pakistan is expected to formally invite the officials of the Afghan Taliban to visit Islamabad as part of a latest diplomatic drive to persuade the rebels for a permanent ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue.

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The Taliban spokesperson has already indicated that the group’s officials would be willing to travel to Islamabad. The development came against the backdrop of the recent visit of PM Imran Khan to the Washington, where he assured President Donald Trump that Pakistan would do “whatever is in its power” to facilitate the Afghan peace deal.

The US, according to officials and diplomatic sources, requested Pakistan to use its “good offices” to persuade the Taliban for a permanent ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue.

According to reports in Express Tribune, Islamabad is in the process of extending a formal invitation to the Taliban’s political office in Doha to visit Islamabad. However, no one from the government officially commented on the development given the sensitivities attached to the move.

Khan while on his way back from Washington had made a short stopover in Doha and was hosted by Qatari PM. One of the subjects discussed during the meeting between Pakistan and Qatari prime ministers was the Afghan settlement and how the Taliban could be convinced to demonstrate some flexibility. Qatar is currently hosting the Taliban political office and is believed to have considerable leverage over the insurgent group.

Pakistan could send an invitation to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy head of Taliban and Sher Abbas Stanekazai, who is currently leading negotiations with the US interlocutors led by Zalmay Khalilzad. Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban movement, had remained in Pakistan’s custody for several years before he was released last year at the request of the US and Afghanistan Government to facilitate the peace process.