ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to undertake a maiden trip to Afghanistan next week on the invitation of President Ashraf Ghani as Afghan peace process faces uncertain future with the change at the White House after Democratic candidate Joe Biden captured the presidency in the recently held US election. The exact date of the visit has yet to be announced but Afghan foreign ministry confirmed that the visit would take place in the coming week. It is likely that the Premier will travel to Kabul on November 19. This will be the first visit by PM Imran to Kabul since he assumed office in August 2018. The visit comes at a crucial juncture as intra-Afghan talks are making little progress with continued violence in Afghanistan making the process further complicated.
What added to the already complex situation is the election of Biden as new president of the United States.
On paper, there appears to be little difference between President Trump and president-elect Biden as both seek the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. However, unlike Trump, the incoming US president would likely seek more orderly withdrawal and may set his own terms with the Afghan Taliban. The Taliban on the other hand hoped that the new US administration would stick to the agreement reached between them and Washington on February 29 in Doha. The landmark deal envisages a timeline for the US troops’ withdrawal from the war-torn country in return for Taliban agreeing to not allow its soil to be used by terrorist groups. The Prime Minister will meet President Ghani, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghan High peace council and other authorities and reiterate Pakistan’s support for the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. Islamabad has played a key part in brokering the ongoing peace process, something that has been acknowledged both by Kabul and Washington. TLTP