Pakistan tells Taliban to ‘prepare' for political dialogue



Pakistan has told the Afghan Taliban leadership to prepare a team for peace negotiations, a Taliban leader familiar with the development told a media outlet.

Pakistani officials conveyed the message to the Taliban leaders in a recent interaction. However, the Taliban leaders have not yet responded to the call, the leader told Daily Times which published the report on Monday.

Taliban had earlier refused to accept Pakistan's call to join the political dialogue when a similar message was conveyed to them in a face-to-face meeting between several senior Taliban leaders and Pakistani officials in March.

Weeks later, Taliban launched their annual spring offensive codenamed ‘Omari Operations' named after Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed by a US spy aircraft in May last year.

"Although Taliban have yet not responded to Pakistan's appeal, this time Pakistan could go tough on the Taliban if they refuse to come to the negotiation table," a former Taliban minister told Daily Times, requesting anonymity.

"There is a possibility that some Taliban members are arrested, expelled or even handed over to Afghanistan if Taliban leadership declines to join the peace process," he further said.

Pakistan has pressed the Taliban to join the peace talks amid diplomatic efforts to find out a peaceful solution to the Afghan problem.

Senior Afghan, Chinese, Pakistani and US officials are currently in Muscat, Oman, for the Quadrilateral Coordination Group's meeting, which will be their first sitting after they met in Islamabad in May last year.

The QCG process had been dysfunctional after an American drone killed Taliban chief Akhtar Mansour on May 21 last year, in an attack Pakistan had described as a serious setback to the peace process. - IANS