News / Asia

Afghan Delegation to Meet Taliban Leader in Pakistan

FILE - Police escort a man, identified as the Afghan Taliban's top military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
FILE - Police escort a man, identified as the Afghan Taliban's top military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Ayaz Gul
Senior Afghan peace negotiators are being allowed to soon travel to neighboring Pakistan for a long-demanded meeting with the Taliban insurgency’s former deputy chief. Pakistani officials are promising more access in the future to facilitate the Afghan political reconciliation process.
Afghan officials say that Pakistan has agreed to arrange the meeting between members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and the Taliban’s former second-in-command to further peace efforts in the war-torn country. They have not disclosed dates for the proposed contact with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.  
Baradar was recently released from a prison in Pakistan but remains in the country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai had been demanding access to him, saying Baradar has enough clout to persuade leaders of the Taliban insurgency to end the 12-year-old conflict.  
The decision to allow Afghan negotiators to meet with Baradar was taken in London on Tuesday during talks Mr. Karzai held with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The meeting was hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Speaking to reporters in Islamabad Wednesday, Sharif’s special assistant on foreign affairs, Tariq Fatemi, said that Pakistan has no objection to such a meeting. He added that both countries will benefit ahead of the planned withdrawal of most foreign forces from Afghanistan.
“Mullah Baradar was released at the express request of President Karzai when he had visited Islamabad [in August]," he said. "We are committed to promoting the peace process in Afghanistan. This peace process should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. We will play a supporting role because we recognize that peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential for peace and stability in Pakistan and we want to live as good neighbors.”
Still, Fatemi expressed caution on prospects for the talks.

“I don’t have expectations, but I have hopes,” he said.
He said that Baradar has been provided with enhanced security “to ensure his personal safety but he is a free man and can go anywhere he wants to." He added that Pakistan has no intention to extradite the Taliban former deputy chief.
Fatemi said that Baradar "will neither be handed over to Afghanistan nor will he be forced to move from one place to another."
Under pressure from Afghan and U.S. officials, Pakistan has released more than three dozen Afghan Taliban insurgents since late last year to further the reconciliation process in the neighboring country.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, James Cunningham, urged the Taliban to pursue the peace process instead of violence.

“That is really an Afghan issue. I don’t have an independent view about Mullah Baradar. But the High Peace Council has felt for some time that he could play an important role. So we are certainly supportive of the effort to try,” he said.

Baradar was trying to reach out to the Afghan government with a peace initiative but was detained while traveling through neighboring Pakistan in 2010.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharif also formally called on the Taliban to become part of the Afghan reconciliation process, saying it will promote unity in Afghanistan and will lead to regional stability.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs