Top Pakistan and Afghan military leaders are set to hold high-level dialogue in Kabul in a few days that could mainly focus on each other’s security concerns.

Chief of Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa is scheduled to travel to Kabul most likely at the weekend that will be his first visit to Kabul since he has assumed office in November last year, sources told Daily Times.

The top general will hold official talks with his Afghan counterpart and is likely to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Although there may not be a breakthrough during the visit in view of the deteriorating relations and widespread mistrust, the visit will mark resumption of the high level military talks.

In Afghanistan, political commentators argue that the Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies have a major role in Afghan affairs and they could play a key role in restoration of peace.

Afghanistan leading Tolo TV has quoted the Afghan defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri as saying his government will reiterate its call to Pakistan to take action against “terrorist hideouts and safe havens inside Pakistan territory.”

Kabul and American military leaders allege Afghan Taliban leaders have been living in Pakistan.

Although the military media wing ISPR has not yet commented on General Bajwa’s visit, Pakistan side is most likely to share its serious concerns over the presence of the Pakistani Taliban armed groups TTP, Jamaatul Ahrar and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. They are blamed for terrorism in Pakistan.

Security officials had long been insisting that the Pakistani leaders operate from the Afghan soil of the border, mostly in Nangarhar, Kunar, Nuristan, Paktia, Paktika and Khost. They say the Pakistani militants have fled to Afghanistan in view of the military operations in the tribal regions and Malakand in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Pakistan Army said on Saturday that a soldier was killed when terrorists opened fire from across the border on a newly established border post in Rajgal, Khyber Agency.

Pakistan could also press for its call on the Afghan leaders to ensure that the Afghan soil should not be used against Pakistan.

On Thursday, the Foreign Office spokesman told reporters in Islamabad that India over the years has played the role of spoiler in Afghanistan.

“Under the garb of development assistance India has used Afghan soil to carry out subversive activities inside Pakistan. RAW of India has developed a clandestine nexus with terrorist groups based in Afghanistan, like TTP, JuA, ETIM etc,” Nafees Zakaria said.

“These groups are being used to foment unrest and orchestrate terrorist attacks in Pakistan and other regional countries. We have evidence to this effect, which was shared with the US, the Secretary General of the UN and also with the Afghan authorities,” the spokesman went on to say.

He said Indian sponsored terrorist groups in Afghanistan and their directed terrorist activities inside Pakistan remain no secret.

Zakaria referred to a recent story in Hindustan Times where it was argued that despite pressure from the US, India won’t sever its ties with the TTP, JuA and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan, which the RAW uses to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Reconciliation with the Taliban could also come under discussions as continuation of violence is one of the major irritants in bilateral relations.

There is currently no progress on political negotiations as President Donald Trump in his Afghan strategy has kept on using military option that experts say could not work in 16 years.

Reports suggested this week that President Trump and his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani are pressing for the closer of the Taliban political office in Qatar that will be a severe blow to political option.

Taliban sources say that the office in Qatar had been opened in 2013 after over two-year consultations between the US, Afghan and Qatari government. The office was closed down days after its opening when the former president Hamid Karzai raised objections at the display of the Taliban’s white flag and the plaque of the Islamic Emirate.

Now all regional stakeholders, China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan oppose military option and call for negotiated settlement, the US is adamant on troops surge on the plea either to defeat or weaken the Taliban. Experts believe the US and NATO could not defeat the Taliban when they had nearly 125,000 troops and despite the use of their military might, the Taliban are now believed to have more areas under their control.

The Taliban have expanded their war to most parts of the relatively peaceful north and parts of the west from the Pashtun-dominated east and south. On Thursday Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf claimed Taliban fighters overrun Maroof district in Kandahar after days of siege. On Wednesday, Taliban claimed firing rockets at the Kabul Hamid Karzai’s international airport when the US Defence Secretary and the NATO chief landed in Kabul.

A Taliban statement on Thursday claimed that the prior information about the two top foreign guests despite their unannounced visit to Kabul.

Despite the Taliban public announcement that they are ready to hold direct talks with the US, the Americans are seemed in no mood to positively respond to the offer. Many would not agree with the Taliban’s notion to press for talks with the US instead of Ghani-led two-headed government, Taliban insist Kabul administration has no powers and that they want the US should set a time-frame for the withdrawal. Taliban defend their position for direct talks with the US as they say the American military had dislodged their government in late 2001.

The article originally appeared in Daily Times on September 29, 2017. Original link.

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