Pakistan, Afghanistan to hold peace talks

November 12, 2012 - 6:51:18 am

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad and Kabul will hold three days of talks on achieving peace in Afghanistan this week, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said yesterday.

Relations between the neighbours are often tense and Kabul has accused Pakistan of supporting Taliban Islamists in their 11-year insurgency against the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

Pakistan has always rejected the accusations, saying it is committed to fighting the Taliban and is actively targeting militants.

A delegation of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, led by chairman Salahuddin Rabbani, will arrive in Islamabad today, to meet President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and to hold talks with the foreign minister and Pakistan’s military. “Rabbani was invited by foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar to visit Pakistan to hold talks with the relevant authorities with regard to peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” a foreign ministry statement said.

Similar talks were derailed last year in September with the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former head of the High Peace Council, by a suicide bomber who purported to be a Taliban peace envoy.

Afghan officials lashed out at Islamabad over the killing, saying it was planned in Pakistan and carried out by a Pakistani with a bomb in his turban.

Pakistan denied the charges and blamed Afghan refugees living in Pakistan for the murder.

The Afghan government later named Rabbani’s son, Salahuddin, as the new chief peace envoy.

Efforts to end the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan have gained a new urgency with US-led Nato forces due to draw combat troops out of the country by the end of 2014.

Talibanisation has touched a dangerous level in Balochistan and the Pashtun Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) have joined hands with each other, in a move seen as extremely harmful for Pakistan’s largest province in terms of size but smallest in terms of population.

This has been revealed in a report that claims the law and order situation in Balochistan has taken a new direction for the worse due to the collusion of these two outlawed militant groups. According to the report, district Zhob in Balochistan is under the control of the Taliban where Talibanisation is rapidly increasing. 

Like the tribal areas straddling between Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Afghanistan, the extremists are targeting pro-government tribal leaders in the district.