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US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and a high-level Afghan Taliban delegation are in Islamabad for crucial talks with civil and military leadership 'to discuss possibilities of resuming the paused political settlement process in Afghanistan.'

"Pakistan has extended an invitation to Taliban Political Commission (TPC) in Doha for a visit," said the Foreign Office on Wednesday, adding that program for the TPC delegation's meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is being finalized.

"The visit would provide the opportunity to review the progress made under US-Taliban peace talks so far, and discuss the possibilities of resuming the paused political settlement process in Afghanistan," the Foreign Office further stated in a brief statement.

According to Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban Doha's Political Office, a high-level delegation led by Mullah Baradar Akhund, the chief negotiator of the Taliban, will visit Islamabad on October 9, on an official invitation.

"He will hold talks with the country's officials on several important issues. This is part of the official tour to the regional countries," Shaheen stated in Pashto language via a tweet on his official Twitter handle. The sources further said the Taliban delegation is also likely to call on Prime Minister Imran Khan and will also meet Foreign Minister Qureshi today (Thursday) to discuss the paused peace process between the US and the Taliban.

"Pakistan has been encouraging both the sides - the United States and the Taliban - to resume the peace dialogue, as it is the only option to end the 18 years long Afghan conflict and restore peace and stability in the war-torn country," said a senior government official, declining to share further details of the discussions to be held with both the Taliban and the US special representative.

However, sources said that Khalilzad who arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday night, is also likely to meet the Taliban delegation if the 'issues' are settled. Both Ambassador Khalilzad and Mullah Baradar have held several rounds of dialogue in Qatar before US President Donald Trump announced cancellation of a 'secret' meeting at Camp David and the peace dialogue on September 7, 2019 after a Taliban bomb attack in Kabul killed an American soldier.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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