ISLAMABAD - US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Afghan Taliban have held two rounds of talks in a renewed effort to push the stalled peace process for an amicable political solution of the lingering Afghan war.

The US and Taliban representatives met first time on the request of Pakistan after President Donald Trump called off talks last month aimed at finding some way forward on ceasefire accord to kickstart a meaningful intra-Afghan dialogue.

“Another round of talks is expected between the two sides any time before they wrap up and leave Islamabad today (Sunday),” a credible government source privy to the developments told The Nation on Saturday, requesting not to be named.

According to other sources, both sides held a meeting Friday in follow-up to their two hours meeting on Thursday in an effort to reach some conclusion.

So far two rounds have been held

The purpose of these meetings is to lay the ground for the resumption of peace process, which has already covered a lot of ground.

In fact, when Trump cancelled talks with the Taliban at Camp David on September 9, the two sides had in principle already finalised the deal.

One of the reasons of cancellation of talks was the impression that the draft agreement offered little concessions to the US and some even perceived it as a document of surrender.

The current efforts led by Pakistan are aimed at narrowing down the differences between the two sides. The US has been pushing for a ceasefire or at least securing a commitment from the Taliban to reduce the level of violence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is trying to convince the Taliban to show flexibility on the issue of ceasefire and holding direct talks with the Afghan government.

Till now, the Taliban have resisted those demands. The insurgent group is adamant that the issue of ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue would be taken care of once the deal is sealed with the US.

Prime Minister Imran Khan during his recent visit to the United States assured President Trump that Pakistan would make all-out efforts to rescue the faltering peace process.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who held a meeting with the Taliban delegation, noted that the direct talks between the US and insurgent group had covered a lot of ground and provided a historic opportunity to seek a political solution to the Afghan war.

At the same time, he urged all parties to reduce violence in order to create an enabling environment for the resumption of frozen peace talks. Although, the Foreign Office press release did not name Taliban, the message was clearly meant for the insurgent group.

The Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group’s founders, met Foreign Minister Qureshi on Thursday and both sides called for a resumption of the talks as soon as possible.

The United States has long considered Pakistan’s cooperation crucial to ending the war in Afghanistan. The latest developments follow a meeting last week between President Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The United States and Taliban said last month, shortly before talks broke off, that they were close to reaching a deal, despite concerns among some US security officials and in the Afghan government that a US withdrawal could bring more conflict and a resurgence of militant factions.