Pakistan appoints special representative for Afghanistan

International |  IANS  | Published :

Islamabad, May 24 (IANS) After a delay of more than two months, Pakistan has appointed former Ambassador Asif Ali Durrani as the country's special representative for Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued the notification of the appointment with immediate affect.

Durrani comes with a strong diplomatic background as he served as Deputy Chief of Pakistan's mission in Kabul from 2005 to 2009. and also served as the country's Ambassador to Iran.

The appointment holds pivotal importance as it comes at a time when both Pakistan and Afghanistan are facing a complex situation with Islamabad questioning the Taliban regime in Kabul of allowing terrorists to operate and use the porous borders to carry out terror attacks in Pakistan.

While on the other hand, the Taliban have called on Pakistani authorities to initiate negotiations with the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terror group to resolve issues.

Durrani's immediate challenge would be to find ways to engage with the Taliban regime and convince them to take action against the TTP factions and militants based and operating out of Afghan soil.

However, the challenge will be an uphill task as Taliban have not only rejected Pakistan's claims that the TTP uses Afghan soil to spread unrest and terrorism, but has also dismissed the presence of the banned outfit in Afghanistan.

In comparison to its earlier stance, Pakistan is no longer seeking any peace talks and maintains that TTP factions will be rooted out through military offensive.

However, the Taliban have reiterated their call for Pakistan to engage in talks with the TTP, insisting that a peace deal should be the way forward.

Experts say that Chinese influence may also be used to compel both Pakistan and Afghanistan in finding out a workable solution to handle the TTP.

Durrani had a major role behind Pakistan's efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in 2018, which was done after former US president Donald Trump requested to jumpstart the peace process.

The former envoy was also part of the Pakistani delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, that recently visited Kabul and presented evidences of TTP's presence in Afghanistan.

Durrani has always opposed direct talks with the TTP and suggested to use the Taliban as the mediating party for the negotiations.

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