Afghan top peace negotiator Abdullah to visit Pakistan on Sept 28

By: News Desk      Published: 11:11 AM, 23 Sep, 2020
Afghan top peace negotiator Abdullah to visit Pakistan on Sept 28

Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Councial for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah will visit Pakistan on September 28, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Wednesday, quoting its sources.

According to the TV channel, Abdullah Abdullah during his visit will hold meetings with political and military leadership with focus on Afghan peace process parleys.

The meetings will also cover a raft of issues including bilateral relations and trade. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan had invited Abdullah Abdullah to visit Pakistan.

Freed Taliban have returned to battlefield, claims Abdullah

A number of Taliban prisoners who were released by the Afghan government as a condition for peace talks have taken up arms again, Abdullah Abdullah said Tuesday. He said discussions with the Taliban in Qatar so far have been positive.

However, he said some -- though not the majority -- of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners released by the government as a condition for talks had resumed the fight against Kabul.

"I do know that some have returned to the battlefield, which is a violation of the agreement that they had made," Abdullah said during an online conference with the US Council on Foreign Relations, reported AFP.

Abdullah said talks between the two sides had begun in Doha on a positive note, as the delegations build some familiarity with each other.

Yet the level of violence inside Afghanistan has not fallen, and he called on the United States, which launched the peace process with its own deal with the Taliban, and Pakistan, which maintains ties to the insurgents, to pressure them to agree to a ceasefire. 

"Unfortunately, so far, the level of violence is very high and to a level that is not acceptable for the people," Abdullah said.

"I repeat my call to the Taliban themselves and also to all partners who have any leverage over the Taliban to press on that point."

Abdullah said he planned to visit Pakistan in the coming days for the first time since 2008.

The persistent violence, and the Taliban's failure to completely cut relations with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda jihadist groups, was singled out as a barrier to success by US officials testifying in Congress Tuesday.

US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said a drawdown of US troops, under the US-Taliban agreement, would halt at around 4,500 remaining in Afghanistan in November while Washington assesses whether the insurgents were living up to their pledges.

"Further withdrawals will be determined based on conditions on the ground and delivery by the Taliban on their commitments," Khalilzad told a hearing of the House oversight committee.

The US has slashed troop numbers in Afghanistan by more than half from above 12,000.

Under President Donald Trump's promise to end US involvement in wars abroad, Washington has pledged to withdraw all forces by May 2021, if the Taliban and the government can achieve a solid peace agreement.

"By any measure, the current levels of violence are too high. We know that the reductions are possible," Khalilzad said, noting short ceasefires were respected by the Taliban in the past.