Monday, June 24, 2024
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Pak urges Afghan insurgents to pursue peace-ambassador

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KABUL: Pakistan hopes to persuade Afghan insurgent groups, including the lethal Haqqani network, to pursue peace but worries resistance from political factions opposed to the Taliban could undermine reconciliation efforts, Islamabad’s ambassador said.

Mohammad Sadiq, speaking in an interview, also suggested US efforts would be better directed at engaging insurgent groups — rather than attempting to defeat them by launching military strikes against their leaders.

Sadiq was speaking just ahead of an expected visit to Pakistan by an Afghan peace council due to give Islamabad a road map of how it wants its influential neighbour to help end the war with the Taliban, now in its 11th year.

“Afghans are much more united in wanting to join the reconciliation process than they were two years ago,” he said.

“But still there are very important people who fought against the Taliban and are not still ready to talk and negotiate with the Taliban. And we are working with them.”

Sadiq was referring to former members of the Northern Alliance, which toppled the Taliban in 2001 with US backing. Some now occupy government positions or are in the opposition.

President Hamid Karzai set up a High Peace Council comprised of members of diverse Afghan ethnic and political groups to try to ease mistrust between the Taliban and its traditional enemies and forge a peace deal.

The task has gained urgency as most NATO combat troops prepare to withdraw at the end of 2014 and hand over security to Afghan government forces.

Afghanistan is known to want access to Taliban leaders belonging to the so-called Quetta Shura, or council, named after the Pakistani city where they are believed to be based, an issue the peace council is likely to raise.

An official with the council said it would also be pushing Islamabad to repatriate Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s former second in command, in detention in Pakistan.

An Afghan official told Reuters that Pakistan had promised to hand over Baradar in September. (Reuters)

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