Diplomatic efforts are under way amidst strong indications of an imminent start to peace negotiations between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Acting U.S Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Laura Miller has arrived in Islamabad and diplomatic sources are linking her visit to the move.
Miller reportedly met Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal and “discussed various issues,” the ambassador said on his official Twitter account.
Meanwhile, the U.S Ambassador in Islamabad David Hale and Military Deputy to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Major General Judd H Lyons were also present in the meeting.
The Express Tribune reported that the U.S delegation arrived in Islamabad days after they met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul and discussed the situation in the region, Afghanistan and Pakistan ties and Miller’s work in this regard, Ghani’s office said.
The U.S envoy is visiting Pakistan at a time when a senior Taliban representative in Qatar political office told The Express Tribune in a recent interview that the Taliban leaders are “involved in internal discussions” to chalk out a strategy for possible political negotiations.
This comes after the Taliban political representatives reportedly visited Pakistan in October. Pakistan and Taliban had confirmed the visit but avoided giving any details.
The Taliban’s Qatar office last week invited Kabul-based journalists and political commentators for the first time since they opened the office in 2013, in an apparent move to send some positive signals to the world community and Afghanistan about political process.
The Taliban officials told the delegation that the UN envoy would also visit them.
The UNAMA has not offered any comment on the visit. The UN envoy met Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani in Kabul on Monday, a foreign ministry statement said.
The Express Tribune reported that Dr Faiz Mohammad Zalaand – a political analyst – quoted top Taliban negotiators Mawlawi Shahabuddin Dilwar, Qari Deen Muhammad and Suhail Shaheen as saying that the Taliban gave priority to peace but no one in Kabul had any plan and strategy to begin talks.
“The Kabul uses the slogan of peace just as a tactic to prolong the war. The U.S is also playing a major role behind the curtain to keep on hostilities.
“The U.S has extended five billion dollars for continuation of the war. The U.S has never allocated any financial support for peace and has created hurdles for any progress for the peace process,” Dr Zalaand summed up.