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Pakistan Seeks More Afghan-Taliban Talks

  • Ayaz Gul

FILE - Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Apr. 30, 2014.

FILE - Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Apr. 30, 2014.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Saturday his country has renewed efforts to help reopen Afghan peace talks.

Sharif reiterated that Pakistan’s “intense effort” is aimed at seeking a negotiated settlement to the war in Afghanistan.

“We are trying to bring it [the Afghan reconciliation process] back on track and, God help us, succeed in it,” Sharif told reporters in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.

Islamabad, in early July, had mediated and hosted landmark initial talks between Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban.

That was the first face-to-face interaction between the Afghan warring sides in 14 years.​

Talks suspended

But a planned second round was cancelled indefinitely after the revelation in late July that Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar had died two years ago.

Sharif said the disclosure has had a “very negative impact” on the nascent Afghan peace dialogue.

He again questioned motives behind the sudden announcement of Mullah Omar’s death while the Afghan peace process was underway and another round was to be held two days later.

"Who did and why remains a question," Sharif said.

He underscored the hard work Pakistan had put in to push the Taliban to the negotiating table.

“Afghanistan had desired to hold overt and not covert negotiations,” he said, adding the Taliban was opposed to Kabul's demand but Islamabad convinced the insurgent group to agree to it.

Renewed insurgent activities

Since the suspension of the Pakistan-mediated peace process, the Taliban has intensified its insurgent activities in Afghanistan and the group, for the first time, had briefly overrun the northern city of Kunduz.

The fall of the provincial capital was the first time the Islamist insurgents captured a major urban center since they were ousted from power in 2001.

Members of Afghan security forces and volunteer militias break on their way to Kunduz, Afghanistan, to fight against Taliban militants, Oct. 1, 2015.

Members of Afghan security forces and volunteer militias break on their way to Kunduz, Afghanistan, to fight against Taliban militants, Oct. 1, 2015.

The battleground victory was seen as an embarrassing setback for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government after years of American-led efforts to train and equip Afghan national security forces.

Kabul, however, accused Pakistan of being behind the Kunduz crisis, charges Islamabad has rejected as unfounded and uncalled for.

Afghan security forces are still struggling to flush out Taliban insurgents from parts of Kunduz.

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