The continuation of the peace process between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban is high on the agenda.
Karachi, Pakistan – A prominent Afghan Shiite Muslim leader has held talks with Pakistan’s foreign minister as the country continues to suffer the brutal murder of 10 Shia minors in a targeted attack in the southwest earlier this month.
Karim Khalili, head of the Afghan political party Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami, met Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the capital Islamabad on Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
Continuing the peace process between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban was on the agenda, with talks to end the 20-year war in neighboring Pakistan’s northwest continuing in Qatar.
“During the meeting, views were exchanged on the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and on the progress of the peace process in Afghanistan”, reads a Pakistani statement on the occasion of the meeting. .
“Minister of Foreign Affairs [Qureshi] reaffirmed Pakistan’s continued support for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
Pakistan facilitated the peace process, helping to bring the Afghan Taliban first to the table with the United States, which culminated in a historic agreement between these two warring parties in February last year.
Khalili, Afghanistan’s former vice president under Hamid Karzai, is also a member of the Hazara ethnic community that was the target of the attack on a coal mine in the Pakistani city of Mach on January 3.
The Hazara community on both sides of the border has suffered decades of persecution and attack by violent sectarian groups who view Shia Muslims as heretics.
In Pakistan, more than 500 Hazaras have been killed in such attacks since 2014, according to at the National Human Rights Commission.
Afghan peace process
Khalili’s visit is the latest in a series of high-level contacts between the two governments on the Afghan peace process.
In November, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, to meet with President Ashraf Ghani.
During the visit, Khan pledged that Pakistan would do “whatever it takes” to help the peace process.
Khalili was the chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC), a body formed by former Afghan President Karzai to conduct negotiations with the Afghan Taliban that was formally dissolved in 2019.
The role of the HPC is now largely assumed by the High Council for National Reconciliation, headed by former Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi repeated a Pakistani claim of “spoilers” that attempted to derail the Afghan peace process – a thinly veiled dig at regional rival India, which Islamabad accuses of sponsoring armed groups on Pakistani soil.
“The foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s call to all parties to take action to reduce violence leading to a ceasefire,” the Pakistani statement read.
“He also warned of the role of ‘spoilers’ inside and outside Afghanistan, who did not want peace to return to Afghanistan and the region.”
Violence has continued to rage in Afghanistan in recent weeks, despite continuing peace talks. On Sunday at least three people were kill in a roadside bombing in Kabul.