Taliban to visit Pakistan on ‘formal invitation’


The Afghan Taliban have agreed to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad if a formal invitation was extended to the militant outfit, BBC Urdu reported on Thursday.

Talking to BBC, Taliban Spokesperson Sohail Shaheen said if they are given a formal invite by Pakistan, they would visit.

He also rubbished claims that the Taliban act as Pakistan’s proxy, saying such allegations will be levelled by “only the people who have no other justification to fight the Taliban”.

Speaking about the peace talks, he said the Taliban have divided the process into two parts: external and internal.

“In the first phase, the outfit is holding parleys with the foreign forces which are in final stages; and in the second phase, Taliban will hold talks with all the stakeholders and the Afghan government can also become part of it,” he added.

Peace in Afghanistan topped PM Imran’s maiden US visit and President Donald Trump hailed Pakistan’s support in achieving the peace in the troubled country.

During his visit to the United States earlier this week, Prime Minister Imran had hinted at a meeting with the insurgents.

He had said that he would meet the Afghan Taliban leadership after returning to Pakistan and would persuade them to sit on the talks table with the Afghan government.

Imran had said that a Taliban delegation wanted to meet him a few months back but he did not meet them because of opposition from the Afghan government.

“Now that I have spoken to President Trump and Afghan President Ghani, I will meet the Taliban and I will try my best to get them to talk to the Afghan government,” he said, adding that he has gained their trust for professing right from the first day that the issue could only be resolved through dialogue,” Imran had said while speaking at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), a day after meeting the US president at the White House.