Islamabad urges Taliban for peace
ISLAMABAD / LONDONPakistani Prime Minister urged leaders of the Afghan Taliban movement to enter direct peace negotiations with the Kabul government, a possible sign that Islamabad is stepping up support for reconciliation in neighboring Afghanistan. The statement came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held what she called a “constructive discussion” with her Pakistani counterpart.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in a statement Feb. 24 that it was his “sincere hope” that the Taliban and other groups respond to the appeal. Gilani said Pakistan was “prepared to do whatever it takes” to help the Afghan reconciliation process succeed.
Afghan officials are holding talks with the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan, the head of a provincial peace council in the insurgency’s heartland Kandahar said Feb. 20.
A day before Gilani’s statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Pakistan was too important for Washington to turn its back on, following ice-breaking talks with her Pakistani counterpart. Clinton and Hina Rabbani Khar spoke for an hour and a half on the sidelines of a London conference on Somalia, in a first step towards thawing relations that were frozen in November when U.S. air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.Clinton said there would still be “ups and downs” in the relationship but that neither side could afford to shun the other.