World Bulletin / News Desk
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says his country is engaged in fresh efforts to revive stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The peace process, which is aimed at ending the 13-year-long insurgency in the war-torn country, was suspended by the Taliban following news in July of the death of the group’s longtime leader, Mullah Omar -- a development that reportedly led to an internecine power struggle within the group.
“I don't know why two years after his [i.e., Omar’s] death, the news was only broken when talks were underway,” Sharif was quoted as saying on Sunday by local English-language daily Dawn.
“We worked hard to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table,” Sharif added. “But when talks were underway, news of Mullah Omar's death surfaced, leading to the suspension of negotiations.”
“Now we are trying again to persuade the Taliban to join the talks [again],” the prime minister was quoted as saying.
Pakistan, which is thought by some to enjoy a degree of influence over the Afghan Taliban, had arranged direct talks between the two sides in July near capital Islamabad.
The Taliban, however, later withdrew from the planned round of talks.
Earlier this month, the Taliban captured the strategically important northeastern city of Kunduz, raising questions as to the Afghan security forces’ ability to contain the militant group following the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2016.
- N. Waziristan strikes
In a related development on Sunday, the Pakistani army claimed to have killed 22 suspected Taliban militants in renewed airstrikes in the restive North Waziristan region near the border with Afghanistan.
According to Pakistan’s army-linked Inter Services Public Relations, six militant hideouts were destroyed in the strikes.
North Waziristan, one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal regions, has been a battleground between security forces and the Taliban since the army launched a full-scale campaign in the region in October of last year.
According to government figures, over 3,500 Taliban militants have been killed over the last year, while more than Pakistani 350 troops have lost their lives -- in either clashes or landmine blasts -- over the same period.
The military operation, which remains ongoing, has also reportedly displaced nearly one million tribesmen from the North Waziristan region.Last Mod: 12 Ekim 2015, 09:21