ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is taking the Afghan peace process further as Afghanistan Hezb-e-Islami chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar will arrive on a three-day visit to Pakistan today (October 19) for talks.

Hekmatyar will be accompanied by a delegation, said a foreign ministry statement issued here yesterday. Weeks earlier, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman, Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, had visited Pakistan appreciated Pakistan’s efforts with regards to the Afghan peace process. He had praised Pakistan’s recent string of confidence-building measures as the Afghan government and the Taliban try to finalise a peace deal.

The foreign ministry statement said during the visit, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar will call on President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other dignitaries. He will also deliver a talk at a policy think-tank and interact with the media.

The visit of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar will provide an opportunity for exchange of views on the Afghan peace process and strengthening of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations as well as people-to-people interaction, said the statement.

“Pakistan attaches high importance to its fraternal ties with Afghanistan, rooted deep in shared history, faith, culture, values and traditions. Pakistan fully supports all efforts for peace, stability and prosperity of the Afghan people,” the statement said.

Pakistan has consistently supported an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

The visit of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar will further strengthen bilateral ties and people-to-people linkages between the two brotherly countries and help advance efforts for peace and stability, the statement added.  

Pakistan’s special envoy to Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq tweeted that the head of Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan will meet Pakistani leaders. He added that Hekmatyar would address think tanks and meet senior journalists during his visit.

Hekmatyar, a veteran Afghan mujahideen (holy warriors) leader has already expressed his willingness to form an alliance with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“Hezb-e-Islami is ready for direct talks with the Taliban, as well as for partnership and cooperation. We believe that if these two groups join hands, the crisis in Afghanistan will end soon and no force will be able to stand against it,” he told supporters at the party’s headquarters in the capital Kabul over the weekend.

“When the first round of talks between Kabul (the Afghan government) and the Taliban is completed, we are ready for the Hezb-e-Islami and the Taliban to start talks. The decision now rests with the Taliban,” he added.

The Taliban, engaged in landmark direct talks with the Afghan government, are yet to comment on the offer.

Hekmatyar asserted that the Afghan government was “weak and divided,” while the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami “share mutual beliefs, values, and ideology.”

This month, he said the US had realized that its presence in Afghanistan had resulted in nothing but financial and human losses.

“They (Americans) want a deal with the Taliban – implemented soon and without delay – and the Kabul government has also been told that the agreement will be implemented (even if they oppose it),” he said.