Pakistan army chief to visit Kabul in expected push to peace dialogue

Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff General Raheel Sharif take part in a welcoming ceremony with military honours at the headquarters of Pakistan's army in Islamabad, Pakistan, December 9, 2015. (File photo: Reuters)

Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif will visit Kabul on Sunday to hold talks with top Afghan civil and military leaders, the military said on Friday.

Afghanistan sees Pakistan’s support as vital to resuming a stalled peace dialogue with the Taliban and recently both countries have expressed resolve to work together in this regard.

“COAS (Chief of Army Staff) will visit Kabul on Sunday, 27th December,” Pakistan army spokesman Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa said on Twitter.

“(Sharif) will hold meetings with political and military leadership of Afghanistan,” Bajwa said.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani travelled to Pakistan this month to open a conference that shored up international support for Taliban talks.

At the Islamabad conference, Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed commitment to the peace process, with the United States and China also offering support.

“The visit by the army chief to Kabul is a follow up of commitments made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani towards Afghan peace at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad,” said security analyst Imtiaz Gul.

Gul said that the resumption of dialogue with the Taliban, action against Haqqani network and other militant groups, as well as peaceful border management were likely to be discussed during talks between General Sharif, not related to Premier Sharif, and top Afghan leaders.

Haqqani network comes under the umbrella of the Taliban and has been described by U.S. officials in the past as a “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence.

Some in Washington believe Pakistan has not done enough to bring its influence to bear and to persuade the group to renounce violence.

During Nawaz Sharif’s trip to the U.S. in October President Barack Obama stressed that Pakistan needed to take action against groups that undermine peaceful dialogue.

Pakistan, which wields considerable influence over the Taliban, hosted a milestone first round of peace negotiations in July.

But the talks stalled when the Taliban belatedly confirmed the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar, sparking a power struggle within the movement.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47