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Pakistani PM: Taliban Must Join Afghan Political Reconciliation

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, left, and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreement signing ceremony, Islamabad, Aug. 26, 2013.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, left, and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreement signing ceremony, Islamabad, Aug. 26, 2013.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged Taliban insurgents to take part in the political reconciliation process aimed at ending the 12-year conflict in Afghanistan.

Speaking Tuesday in London, Sharif said the Taliban should talk with Afghanistan's High Peace Council to "promote unity." He said stability will return to the country only when everyone is involved in the process.

The Pakistani prime minister spoke ahead of a scheduled meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to be hosted Wednesday by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

President Karzai formed the High Peace Council more than three years ago to promote peace and national political reconciliation in Afghanistan. But the council has made little headway.

Cameron initiated the three-party summit sessions last year to encourage Pakistan and Afghanistan to strengthen bilateral cooperation to bring all Afghan stakeholders to the negotiating table.

Afghan officials say President Karzai will urge Sharif to disclose details on a former Taliban deputy commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was released from Pakistan’s custody last month.

The militant commander remains under “protective” custody in an undisclosed location, but Afghans have been demanding access to him, insisting he can use his clout to persuade Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to end violence.

Pakistan supported the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, and Pakistan's military spy agency is suspected of secretly maintaining those ties, even after Pakistan joined the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban.

Afghan and American leaders have been pressing Pakistan to use its influence with the Taliban to bring the insurgent group to the table for talks with Afghan peace negotiators.

Sharif said Tuesday he believes Pakistan "should play every possible role" to help achieve stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region as a whole.

A sustainable Afghan political reconciliation process is considered crucial before the bulk of U.S.-led NATO forces leave Afghanistan by the end of next year.
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