Pakistani PM visits Afghanistan to discuss Taliban ceasefire

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Afghan leaders on Thursday discussed the possibility of pushing Taliban insurgents into a ceasefire to break a stalemate in the peace process, officials in Islamabad said.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in his first visit to Kabul, in order to reset ties between the estranged neighbours who have both faced terrorism for years.
“The discussions in Kabul will revolve around the possibility of pushing the Taliban towards a sustainable ceasefire by the year end,” an intelligence source said as Khan met Ghani.
“Some progress has already been made,” the source added.
Khan’s visit, the first by a Pakistani leader in years, comes as peace talks in Doha between Kabul and the Taliban did not take off despite international efforts, due to stiff opposing stances on both sides and rising in violence in Afghanistan. The US government transition after the victory of President-elect Joe Biden has also created doubts about the future of the process, which started in February following a deal with the Taliban brokered by Washington. A Pakistani diplomat said Pakistan was worried about Afghanistan descending into a civil war if the international players abruptly withdraw from the country battered by two decades of conflict.
“We have to prevent that from happening. Otherwise, the entire region will suffer,” the diplomat said.
Analyst Irfan Shehzad of the think-tank Eurasian Century Institute said Khan’s visit would “give a strong push to a seemingly uncertain peace process. That Pakistan stands behind intra-Afghan peace process is indeed a strong message.” — dpa