Pak PM Nawaz Sharif to visit Afghanistan

Last Updated: Saturday, June 8, 2013 - 17:21

Lahore: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will soon visit Afghanistan for talks with President Hamid Karzai aimed at pushing forward the troubled peace process ahead of the withdrawal of US and foreign forces next year.

PML-N leader Tariq Azeem confirmed Sharif would visit Kabul this month but said no dates had been fixed as yet.

"Prime Minister Sharif has accepted an invitation extended by Mr Karzai recently and the dates of his visit will be finalised shortly," he said.

The two leaders are expected to discuss all issues, including talks with the Afghan Taliban to make them join the peace process in Afghanistan, Azeem said.

Karzai formally invited Sharif to visit Kabul when he called the PML-N chief on Thursday to congratulate him on becoming the Prime Minister for a third term.

Sharif accepted the invitation and said he was looking forward to the visit. Some sources said Sharif could travel to Kabul next week while others said the visit would take place later this month.
Sharif is also expected to visit Saudi Arabia soon, PML-N insiders said.

The insiders said the PML-N does not believe that the killing of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan deputy chief Waliur Rehman in a recent US drone attack had spoilt the chances for peace talks with the militants.

According to the new Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, the US should give a chance to peace and limit drone attacks.

Soon after he was formally elected the Prime Minister by the National Assembly on Wednesday, Sharif had said that US drone strikes should stop.

He described the attacks as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. However, two days after Sharif made the remarks, the US carried out a drone strike in the lawless North Waziristan region yesterday that killed seven persons.

Following the attack that killed Waliur Rehman, the Pakistani Taliban withdrew their offer for talks with the government and vowed to avenge his death.

Radical cleric Maulana Samiul Haq, who heads a faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and has been requested by Sharif to use his influence to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, wants him (Sharif) to talk to US President Barack Obama instead of banking on Karzai for peace with the Taliban.
Haq claims the Taliban can be made to join negotiations only if the PML-N government succeeds in getting the US to stop the drone attacks.
He has described Karzai as a "helpless man". "In negotiations with the Taliban, the main party is America. Sharif should talk to it directly if he is serious in resolving the issue. Karzai is America`s man and has no real power to sort out such important issues," Haq said.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, June 8, 2013 - 17:21

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