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Pakistani army chief arrives in Qatar in bid to revive Afghan peace process

Pakistani Army chief General Raheel Sharif arrived in Doha on Monday in a bid to revive the Afghan peace process.

“COAS arrives in Doha,Qatar on one-day official visit. Will meet political and military leadership,” DG ISPR Lt Gen Asim Bajwa said. During his visit, the army chief will hold talks with Qatari leadership on key issues focusing on restarting the Afghan peace process, security officials told The Express Tribune. The army chief has been involved in consultation with Afghan leaders about the peace process during his series of visits to Kabul. Last week, he had received Afghan ambassador Dr Omar Zakhilwal and had assured his full support to the peace process.

The visit is seen as crucial as it comes a day before the next round of the quadrilateral meeting in Kabul that is likely to set a date for talks with Taliban groups and Hizb-e-Islami.

The Taliban have their political office in Qatar and leaders of the movement insist the office has been authorised to hold political negotiations. On February 6, the third round of the four-nation process in its meeting in Islamabad had agreed to approach the Taliban office in Qatar to encourage them to join the process.

The date for resumption of direct talks between Kabul and Taliban is likely to be announced this week when senior officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States sit together as part of ongoing efforts to strike a peace deal in the war-torn country. The fourth meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) will take place in the Afghan capital on Tuesday.

Kabul and Afghan Taliban are to meet again after a gap of seven months. The first-ever direct talks took place in July last year. But the second round was called off abruptly after the confirmation of the death of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar. While Afghanistan-Pakistan  ties deteriorated in subsequent months, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Islamabad in December for the Heart of Asia conference thawed relations. (Tribune)

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