COAS, ISI chief hold talks with President Ghani in Kabul
Chief of the Army Chief (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General Faiz Hameed held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul on Tuesday.
The recently appointed Pakistan's special envoy to Afghanistan, Muhammad Sadiq, also accompanied them.
Afghan TV channel ToloNews reported that President Ashraf Ghani met with Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, in Kabul on Tuesday, the Pakistan embassy confirmed.
The meeting came days after US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad launched his latest mission to help start the intra-Afghan dialogue and on Sunday he called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Islamabad.
Khalilzad discussed matters of mutual interest, overall regional security situation and Afghan reconciliation process in the meeting.
DG ISPR in a tweet said: “Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa. During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, overall regional security situation including Afghan refugees issue/Afghan Reconciliation (were discussed)”.
In another tweet the ISPR said: “Process and Pakistan-Afghanistan border management were also discussed. Both shared steps taken in this regard and agreed to continue working towards mutually agreed goals.”
According to TOLOnews, Zalmay Khalilzad and the commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan US Gen Scott Miller met with the Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Baradar in Doha on Sunday.
“Both sides talked about (the) speedy release of the prisoners and commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for Taliban.
“Dr Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar and his delegation also participated in the meeting,” he added.
However, Shaheen did not provide further details of the meeting.
Sources close to the Taliban said that based on initial agreements between the engaged sides, the intra-Afghan negotiations will be held in Doha, a development that critics say will move the peace process forward if the talks happen.
The sources did not mention the time of the negotiations but said there is an agreement to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners from the Afghan government’s custody ahead of the talks.
The Afghan government has said that, to date, 2,710 Taliban prisoners have been released. The Taliban, on the other hand, has released 458 prisoners who the group claims are government forces members, according to information shared by the group.
The Afghan government, meanwhile, has said that it is prepared to send its delegation to the intra-Afghan negotiations, something that Khalilzad, who started his new trip on June 5, will stress on his trip.
Intra-Afghan talks way to peace: NATO
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that NATO is supporting the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. “We welcome the agreement between the United States and Taliban, because that is the first very important step towards lasting peace in Afghanistan. And lasting peace in Afghanistan, we can only have if there’s intra-Afghan negotiations, an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led process,” Stoltenberg said.
“And we support that. And I believe that the best way we can do that is to continue to train and help the Afghan security forces so they can create peace and stability in their own country themselves,” he said.
He said that NATO has focused on enabling the Afghans to fight “terrorism themselves, to stabilize their own country.”
“And there are many problems, many reasons to be concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, but there is a huge achievement that we now have a strong Afghan security force which is able to fight terrorism themselves,” he added.
Stoltenberg also in a tweet said on Monday that he spoke with US President Donald Trump on important security issues, "including the situation in Afghanistan, our joint fight against international terrorism and the importance of keeping NATO strong in an increasingly competitive world."