US special envoy arrives in Pak for talks on Afghanistan
Islamabad: America’s special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday to hold meetings with Pakistan’s political and military leadership to coordinate closely on the US efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table to end the 17-year-long war in Afghanistan.
Khalilzad arrived here a day after Pakistan announced that US President Donald Trump has written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeking Islamabad’s “assistance and facilitation in achieving a negotiated settlement of the Afghan war”.
Khan told the media on Monday that resolution of conflict in Afghanistan was also in the best interest of Pakistan, which always made serious efforts to bring peace in the neighbouring country.
Diplomatic sources said that Khalilzad would hold talks with foreign ministry and security officials about the situation in Afghanistan.
Khalilzad will also travel to other regional countries including Afghanistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to seek support for his mission.
Afghan-origin Khalilzad served as a special envoy of President George W Bush following the fall of the Taliban government in 2001. He also served as US ambassador to Afghanistan.
He is seen in Pakistan as a hawk who has often accused Islamabad of supporting Taliban militants.
It’s his second visit to Pakistan following his appointment as special representative and reflects the Trump administration’s intent to support, facilitate, and participate in a peace process in Afghanistan.
After his first trip in October, Pakistan announced that it released senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to help in the efforts of peace in Afghanistan.
Baradar, the former right-hand man of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, was among several senior Taliban leaders freed in recent months, after the Taliban demanded their release in direct talks with Khalilzad on October 12.
It is believed that Mulla Baradar’s release would help persuade Afghan Taliban to lay down arms and negotiate in new peace talks. (PTI)