ISLAMABAD - US President Donald Trump’s pointman for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad on Monday as part of the continuing efforts to return to the negotiating table with the Taliban. He met Prime Minister Imran Khan for consultations on the stalled Afghan peace process. According to a statement by the PM Office, the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s “steadfast and sincere support to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process”.

He underlined the need to overcome the difficulties in this regard such that an enduring political solution to the Afghan conflict could be achieved at the earliest. The prime minister “stressed that it was important for all sides to take practical steps for reduction of violence in Afghanistan, adding that it was “important to guard against the negative narratives and efforts by any quarter to undermine the progress made so far through painstaking efforts”.

He said Pakistan was ready to do everything possible in its capacity for early conclusion of a peace deal. “Achieving sustainable peace and security and ensuring long-term development, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region was in Pakistan’s best national interest.” This is Khalilzad’s second visit to Pakistan in a month. He visited Islamabad earlier this month and held a meeting with Afghan delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Khalilzad’s latest trip to the region that also took him to Kabul and Moscow has raised hopes for the resumption of Afghan peace talks. Talks with the Taliban on a plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan in exchange for Taliban security guarantees were halted by Trump last month following the death of a US soldier and 11 other people in a Taliban bomb attack in Kabul.

 

 

 

 However, efforts are being made to resume the peace process that almost produced a deal with the Taliban. Pakistan, Russia and China last week urged the US to resume talks with the Taliban as they believed that the 18-year Afghan war could only end through negotiations.