Taliban to visit Pakistan amid stalled US talks
The Taliban delegation will reportedly inform Pakistan’s leadership of factors that derailed the talks with the US.
A delegation of Taliban members, led by one of the group’s founders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, will discuss “important issues” with Pakistani officials in capital, Islamabad, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter.
The Taliban delegation on Wednesday would inform Pakistan’s leadership of the factors that derailed the talks with the United States aimed at striking a deal allowing US and other foreign troops to withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees, said a Taliban official, who declined to be identified.
Pakistan has been a key supporter of the Taliban from the group’s founding in the midst of Afghanistan’s civil war in the early 1990s.
Since Trump ended talks with the Taliban, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and other officials have been urging the US to resume talks on ending nearly 18 years of fighting in neighbouring Afghanistan.
The Taliban and the US said last month they were close to reaching a deal, despite concerns among some US security officials and within the Afghan government that a US withdrawal could plunge the country into even more conflict.
It was not clear whether the Taliban delegation would also meet Imran Khan.
Revival of US-Taliban dialogue?
“The Taliban delegation’s visit to Islamabad comes as Zalmay Khalilzad is also in town,” Arif Rafiq, president of Vizier Consulting, a New York-based political risk advisory company, told Al Jazeera.
Khalilzad is the Trump administration’s special envoy for the Afghan peace talks.
“That could signal a potential revival of the US-Taliban dialogue in the weeks ahead,” said Rafiq, adding that it was unlikely Trump has closed the door to a resumption of talks with the Afghan group.
“But he [Trump] would like a comprehensive ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue to begin immediately. Those demands, combined with Afghanistan’s ongoing electoral process, are among the factors that make it difficult for the Taliban to make such concessions before the conclusion of a deal with the US,” Rafiq said.
A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani could not be immediately reached.