Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the continuation of the war in neighboring Afghanistan was not in the Taliban’s “interest anymore,” after holding talks with a Taliban delegation in Islamabad.
The Taliban delegation, led by the militant group’s top political leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrived in the Pakistani capital on December 16 for a three-day visit.
The visit comes amid growing calls for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has intensified attacks on the Afghan government despite entering peace talks aimed at ending the 19-year conflict.
The “Taliban are convinced that the continuation of war” in Afghanistan is “not in their interest anymore, not in the interest of Afghanistan,” Qureshi told reporters.
“That is why I clearly felt a tendency toward peace,” he said after talks with the Taliban delegation.
Qureshi said Pakistan calls for a reduction of violence in Afghanistan that leads to a permanent cease-fire.
He said peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban that started in the Gulf state of Qatar in September represent a “historic opportunity” that should not be “wasted.”
Pakistan, the Taliban’s main sponsor, has long been accused of sheltering and aiding the militants, a claim rejected by Islamabad.
Pakistan is credited with bringing the militant group to the negotiation table with the United States in 2018.
Those talks eventually led to the U.S.-Taliban deal that was signed in February, providing for the withdrawal of all foreign forces in exchange for the Taliban’s security guarantees and its commitment to peace talks with the Afghan government.
Despite the peace talks, violence in Afghanistan has continued unabated. There are regular clashes in various parts of the country and bomb and rocket attacks in the capital, Kabul.
With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters