Afghan peace overtures: Renounce violence and restart talks, Taliban told

A file photo of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
A file photo of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has invited the new leadership of the Afghan Taliban to renounce violence and rejoin the reconciliation process after the insurgent group this week resolved a succession dispute that had threatened to split it.
Reacting to reports that Mullah Omar’s family has pledged allegiance to his successor Mullah Akhtar Mansur, the Foreign Office spokesperson told reporters on Thursday that it was an internal matter of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan (TTA).
“However, we hope that TTA will give up violence and join intra-Afghan dialogue for peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan will facilitate the dialogue, as before,” Qazi Khalilullah said.
Last month, the Taliban admitted covering up the death of their supreme leader Mullah Omar for two years. The confirmation of Omar’s death had led to the cancellation of the second round of direct talks between representatives of Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban in Islamabad.
The events that unfolded following the death of Mullah Omar have also undermined relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The FO spokesperson admitted that the crunch issue facing the two neighbours was to restore trust that was eroded due to recent events.

Qazi said Pakistan was ready to facilitate the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process as according to him “peace in Afghanistan is important not only for the people of Afghanistan but also the people of Pakistan and the region.”
Earlier this month Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz travelled to Kabul to deliver a key message calling for the resumption of peace process.
However, Afghanistan has yet to respond to Pakistan’s proposal. Angered by the recent spike in violence, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said his country will now not seek any help from Pakistan for brokering a peace deal.
But with the resolution of succession dispute within the Afghan Taliban, Islamabad is now hoping that all stakeholders will now go back to the negotiating table to find a political solution to the over a decade long conflict.
Commenting on the recent attack along the Pakistan-Afghan border by militants thought to be linked with the Islamic State, the spokesperson insisted that there was no footprint of the Middle Eastern terrorist group in Pakistan.
“However, there are reports of presence of Daesh (IS) in Afghanistan, but I will not comment on that. Our policy on countering terrorism is very clear. In this regard, the success of Zarb-e-Azb in eliminating terrorists is well-known to you and the world,” he emphasised.


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