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Pakistan ready to facilitate Afghan Government-Taliban talks

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Islamabad: Islamabad is ready to facilitate a dialogue between the Kabul government and Taliban which is expected to start in the coming weeks, a top Pakistani diplomat has informed.

“Pakistan is ready to play any possible role in the reopening of dialogue between Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government wherever it is being planned,” Dawn quoted Sartaj Aziz, a key advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as informing the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Taliban have previously shown reservations about Pakistan’s involvement in peace talks.

Aziz said the expected dialogue must have some positive impact on the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan with hopes that it might be reduced.

He said that not only the Taliban but many foreign fighters were still fighting in Afghanistan.

He stressed that the Afghan-Taliban must respect the mandate given by the people of Afghanistan to those who are now in power, after the Afghanistan elections last year.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry told the committee that there were no foot prints of Islamic State and that there was no direct threat to Pakistan from IS. However, security agencies must be aware of the situation and take precautionary measures, he cautioned.

He confirmed the agreement for peace talks between Inter Services Intelligence and Afganistan’s intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security, but said the agreement was yet to be ratified and confirmed by the Afghan government.

The agreement for talks came only days after an attack on Afghanistan’s parliament, the responsibility for which was claimed by the Afghan Taliban.

Afghanistan’s intelligence service has accused a Pakistani intelligence officer of helping the Taliban carry out the attack on the Afghan parliament.

(IANS)

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Vow To Hold Peace Talks With India: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan

Since taking power in August Khan has also sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials

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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan prepares to speak at the opening of the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. VOA

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday vowed to hold peace talks with arch-rival India following elections in the neighbouring country, after a similar offer from the former cricketer was “rebuffed.”

Khan made the announcement during a speech at a Saudi Arabian investment conference where the newly minted leader launched a charm offensive targeting potential investors as Pakistan seeks to secure funds amid a yawning balance of payment crisis.

“When I won the elections and came to power the first thing I tried to do was extend a hand of peace to India,” Khan told the crowd at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh, saying the overture was later “rebuffed” by Delhi.

“Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India,” he added, referring to upcoming nationwide polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.

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Imran Khan, wikimedia commons

In September India pulled the plug on a rare meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a UN summit — a move that was termed “arrogant” by Khan and unleashed a barrage of insults from both sides.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both since independence in 1947.

Delhi has stationed about 500,000 soldiers in the portion of Kashmir it controls, where separatist groups demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Khan’s call for peace talks comes as his administration is desperately seeking funds from “friendly” countries, including Saudi Arabia, to shore up Pakistan’s deteriorating finances.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, surrounded by host country representatives and other participants, attends an investment conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. VOA

The prime minister’s attendance at the FII comes as leading policy-makers and corporate chiefs shunned the conference in response to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

During his address at the FII Khan confirmed that Pakistan was also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a new bailout.

Also Read: Pakistan Fears Economic Turmoil, Re-thinks ‘Silk Road’ Project With China

Since taking power in August Khan has also sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.

But help has been in short supply and economists’ warnings have grown increasingly urgent. (VOA)