ISPR says matters of mutual interest and overall regional security situation were discussed during the meeting
British High Commissioner Christian Turner called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday and discussed the Afghan peace process among other matters of mutual interest, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
The military’s media wing said that the meeting took place at GHQ in Rawalpindi in which overall regional security situation also came under discussion.
The meeting takes place at a time when the Afghan peace process hangs in the balance. On Sunday, the Afghan Taliban had warned the US and international forces of dire consequences if they extend their “occupation” of the war-torn country.
As part of the Doha deal, the US troops need to leave Afghanistan by May. However, the US as well as Nato have now indicated that they may not withdraw in summer. The US and Nato insist that troops’ withdrawal is condition-based. Both accused the Taliban of not honouring the commitment. Taliban have been accused of not taking steps to reduce violence as well as not cutting ties with the terrorist groups.
The insurgent group, however, rejected the allegation and insisted that they were fully committed to the peace accord. Backing their claims in yesterday’s statement, Taliban said since the February 29, 2019 deal, not a single American was killed in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has advised the Biden administration to speak directly to the Taliban if it wants to extend foreign forces’ stay beyond May.
Pakistan has a key role in brokering and facilitating the peace process, and has been emphasising that there is no military solution to the lingering war in Afghanistan.
Since taking charge in January, the new US administration, which is currently undertaking a review of the deal with the Taliban, has avoided talking to the Taliban. The policy is totally the opposite of the Trump administration, which had been engaged in direct talks with the Taliban.
Pakistan has no objection to the Biden administration’s review of the accord but feels that not engaging with the Taliban is not the right approach.
“If the US can’t withdraw troops either because of logistic or any other reasons, they should directly speak to the Taliban,” a senior Pakistani official, who has the firsthand account of the peace efforts, said.