Gilani set for Doha talks after Taliban announces Qatar office
ISLAMABAD / KABUL
A Taliban militant poses after joining the Afghan government’s reconciliation and reintegration program in Herat in this photo. ‘We are ready to support every effort and a process that is Afghan-led and involves all factions,’ a top Pakistani official says. REUTERS photoPakistan will support every effort to promote reconciliation in Afghanistan, a senior government official said ahead of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s visit to Qatar today to discuss peace efforts.
Gilani’s trip comes after the Afghan Taliban last month said they planned to set up a political office in Qatar ahead of possible talks with the United States. “There are certain ideas and suggestions on Afghan reconciliation and when Prime Minister Gilani meets Qatar’s leadership, these will certainly come under discussion,” the official, privy to developments on the issue, told Agence France-Presse yesterday.The Afghan Taliban last month announced they would set up a political office in Qatar, which was seen as a major development in efforts to end an 11-year war that is taking an ever increasing toll on civilians. According to the latest United Nations statistics, more than 3,000 Afghan civilians died in the war in 2011, the deadliest year on record for civilians in the Afghan war.
“Americans have been briefing us on all developments aimed at pushing forward the peace process in Afghanistan and we have clearly told them that Islamabad strictly adheres to a policy of non-interference,” the official, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
“We are ready to support every effort and a process that is Afghan-led and involves all factions,” he said, adding “it is important to engage all Afghan factions including Taliban in the process to achieve a lasting peace.”
US soldier shoots Afghan guard
“We have no favorites in Afghanistan and strongly believe that all Afghan factions have to be on board and agree on a certain formula,” the official said. “The only favorite that we have is peace and stability in Afghanistan.” Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar during a visit to Kabul last week rejected accusations that her country was secretly supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, an American soldier shot and killed an Afghan guard at a base in the country’s north, apparently because the soldier thought the guard was about to attack him, Afghan police said yesterday, the Associated Press reported. There have been a growing number of attacks by Afghan soldiers against international forces in Afghanistan in recent years, some the result of arguments and others by insurgent infiltrators. Last month, an Afghan soldier shot and killed four unarmed French troops last month at a base in eastern Afghanistan. Furthermore, a car bomb exploded just outside the police headquarters of a southern Afghanistan city yesterday, killing at least seven people and wounding at least 21.