Islamabad reluctant to host Kabul-Taliban talks

PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad is reluctant to host direct talks between Afghan government and the Taliban and has communicated to the Afghan government that it should remain directly in contact with the Taliban Office in Doha and hold the next round of talks in Qatar.

Last month the four-nation Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) had invited Taliban groups to join direct talks with the Afghan government by the first week of March. Pakistan had accepted the offer to host the unprecedented meeting.

Later, the Taliban rejected what they called as ‘futile misleading negotiations’. However, contacts were continuing with the Taliban to persuade the insurgent group to soften its stance on negotiations.

Sources privy to the development said Pakistan is wary of the pressure that comes to it in the event of hosting the talks and the expectation from it to bring all Taliban factions to the negotiating table.

Officials said Pakistan has only committed to work with the Taliban groups that it can talk to and convince to join negotiations. But fresh reports suggest that bringing the main Taliban groups to table may be a Herculean task as the Taliban seem all set for their Spring Offensive.

Reports from Kabul suggest that while Afghan President Asharf Ghani and his group want the peace talks to progress, there is a large group within the Afghan establishment that has no interest in the resolution of the longstanding conflict.

-more at Express Tribune

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