Pakistan Army Chief in Afghanistan to Revive Talks with Taliban

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Islamabad: Chief of Pakistan’s Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has set off for a visit to neighboring Afghanistan to rekindle stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban militant group.

Pakistan military spokesman, Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa, said on Sunday that Sharif departed for Kabul with “sincerity and optimism for better border management and peace process in Afghanistan.”

Bajwa said the Pakistani army chief would hold meetings with senior Afghan political and military figures during his day-long visit.

On November 31, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reached an agreement during a meeting on the sidelines of a United Nations climate summit in Paris to revive peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Pakistan hosted the first round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan leaders back in July. The talks came to a standstill shortly after the first round, when the militants belatedly announced the death of their longtime leader Mullah Omar.

In October, Pakistani officials said the talks were expected to resume.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been tense in recent years over the Taliban militancy. Senior Afghan officials blame elements inside the Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for supporting the Taliban, while Islamabad blames the Afghan government for giving shelter to rival militants on its side of the border.

Afghanistan is gripped by insecurity 14 years after the US and its allies attacked the country in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. Although the attack overthrew the Taliban, many areas across Afghanistan still face violence and insecurity.

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