March 16, 2018
ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan will host high-level talks with Pakistan on Saturday to “chalk out a way forward” to improve strained bilateral ties and enhance cooperation to further a recent Afghan offer of peace talks to the Taliban.
Pakistani National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua will travel to Kabul for the daylong discussions “on a special invitation” from his Afghan counterpart, Haneef Atmar, said an official announcement in Islamabad on Friday.
Janjua is scheduled to meet with President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Masoom Stanekzai, head of the Afghan intelligence agency (NDS).
“Pakistan is always prepared to work in a cooperative framework and provide every help to win peace in Afghanistan,” the statement noted.
The top Pakistani security official is visiting Kabul more than two weeks after Ghani offered unconditional talks to the Taliban in his bid to end an increasingly deadly Afghan war.
The Taliban have not yet publicly responded to the offer, prompting expectations the insurgents are mulling about whether to come to the negotiating table, Pakistan and U.S. officials said.
Islamabad’s relations with Kabul have deteriorated in the past three years over allegations that Pakistani security institutions covertly support the Taliban insurgency. Pakistan denies the charges.
However, Pakistani military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa recently spoke to a group of journalists and sounded upbeat about better future relations with Afghanistan.
Bajwa, in a rare interaction, credited his meeting with Ghani in Kabul last October for providing the breakthrough.
He has said that since then “the vibes are positive” and that he has been in regular contact with the Afghan president via his cellphone to try to sustain the momentum toward a peaceful Afghanistan.