A high-powered Afghan security delegation visited neighboring Pakistan on Tuesday for official talks on how to jointly push peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.
Haneef Atmar, the Afghan national security advisor, led the team, which included the interior minister and the head of the Afghan spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
Afghan sources told VOA that Atmar's delegation stayed in Islamabad for a few hours and mainly met with the head of the Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). They said the discussions happened in the context of the Afghan government's conflict with the Taliban and the successful mutual cease-fire over the three-day Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.
Taliban insists on three days
The Taliban refused to extend its three-day cease-fire that ended on Sunday and has since returned to battlefield hostilities.The Afghan government's unilateral week-long cease-fire will end on Wednesday.
Pakistani military spokesman, Major-General Asif Ghafoor, told VOA the Afghan delegation's visit was part of ongoing bilateral engagements under a newly agreed framework known as Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). He did not share any details of Tuesday's discussions.
The wide-ranging APAPPS dialogue is aimed at easing mutual tensions and improving security, intelligence, and counterterrorism, as we well as economic cooperation between the two uneasy neighboring countries, to promote peace on both sides of their long shared border.
Afghan media reports said Atmar's delegation also was intending to ask Pakistani officials to convince the Taliban to agree to extend its cease-fire.
US renews talks
Leaders in Afghanistan maintain that the Taliban operates out of Pakistan, and they have been calling on Islamabad to use its influence on the insurgents to end the violence and engage in peace talks with Kabul.
After months of suspension in high-level contacts with Pakistan, the United States earlier this month resumed discussions with Islamabad and acknowledged it has asked for the country's help in pushing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Pakistani officials acknowledge they have limited leverage with the Taliban and say they are willing to use it to help facilitate a peaceful settlement to the stalemated Afghan conflict.
But the Pakistan military rejects charges that insurgents are using the country for orchestrating attacks inside Afghanistan. Officials do not rule out that there are small groups of insurgents among nearly 3 million Afghan refugees that Pakistan still hosts, and they have been calling for an early repatriation of the displaced population.
Source: Voice of America