US Envoy for Afghanistan Peace Visits Pakistan

The US envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, Monday (2/11) visited Pakistan and reviewed Afghanistan’s peacebuilding efforts with the country’s military leadership.

The visit comes on the eve of the November 3 US presidential election, although analysts say they do not expect any significant changes in Washington’s current policy, regardless of who wins the election.

A Pakistan military statement said its chairman, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and Khalilzad’s delegation discussed the ongoing US-brokered Afghan peace process “and the steps forward for lasting peace” in Afghanistan.

The statement referred to weeks of direct talks taking place in Qatar between Taliban insurgents and representatives of the Afghan government to reach a political settlement that would end Afghanistan’s nearly two decades of war.

The intra-Afghan peace dialogue is the result of an agreement US President Donald Trump’s administration initiated with the Taliban in late February to free US troops from the conflict in Afghanistan, America’s longest conflict.

Pakistan has been credited with bringing Taliban leaders to the negotiating table and helping broker a February 29 deal that requires all US and NATO troops to leave Afghanistan by May 2021.

In return, the insurgents must fight acts of terror and negotiate peace deals with rival factions in Afghanistan. A military statement Monday said Khalilzad “appreciates Pakistan’s tireless efforts to facilitate the process towards mutual peace in the region.”

However, intra-Afghan talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, have not yielded the desired results and have instead escalated hostilities in Afghanistan that kill dozens of people every day.

The escalation in violence has raised concerns about the viability of the peace process. Despite the escalating violence, Trump has repeatedly said he wants to withdraw US troops to end what he has often called endless wars. [my/lt]