Afghan party leader due in Pakistan for talks

Head of pro-Iran Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami party will meet Pakistani premier, top diplomat

An Afghan political party leader will pay a three-day visit to Islamabad on Monday to discuss the ongoing intra-Afghan dialogue with the Pakistani leadership, officials said on Sunday.

Karim Khalili, the head of Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami, a pro-Iran Afghanistan party, will be visiting Islamabad from Jan. 11 to 13 along with a delegation, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

His visit coincides with the second round of intra-Afghan dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha, which aims to bring an end to a 19-year conflict in the war-torn country.

During the visit, Khalili will meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi among other senior officials.

“The visit of Ustad Karim Khalili is part of Pakistan’s ongoing policy to reach out to political leadership in Afghanistan to forge common understanding on the Afghan peace process and deepen people-to-people linkages,” the press release said.

“Pakistan remains steadfast in its support for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political solution of the conflict in Afghanistan through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.”

Islamabad’s influence over the Taliban is viewed as crucial to court the warring militia. In December 2018, Pakistan arranged rare direct talks between Washington and the Taliban, which led to a peace deal in February last year.

Under the agreement, the US committed to withdraw all foreign forces from Afghanistan by July 2021 in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban.