Pakistan has been reaching out to all Afghan stakeholders as part of its facilitative efforts to ensure progress towards an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan. The visit to Pakistan of Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, in September, and that of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Mujahideen leader and two-time PM during the 1990s, in November came in the same context. Prime Minister Imran Khan had also telephoned President Ashraf Ghani on December 16 and assured him of Pakistan’s all-out support for the ongoing Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
The telephonic contact between Imran and Ghani coincided with the start of a three-day visit to Islamabad of the Taliban Political Commission, headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The delegation had important meetings in Islamabad, including with the foreign minister and the prime minister, during which a way forward regarding the peace process was discussed. The recent engagements had become all the more important in view of some new developments in the context of the peace process. These developments include the change in the White House and its likely impact on Washington’s decision to pull Americans troops out of Afghanistan; hiccups in the peace talks in Doha; and a recent surge in violence in the war-ravaged country – 60 per cent in the past two months, according to the UN.
Just as the Taliban were wrapping up their Islamabad visit on Friday, a rickshaw bomb blast killed at least 15 civilians, including 11 children, in Ghazni province. More recent though is a car bombing in Kabul on Sunday. An Afghan lawmaker survived the attack in which nine people lost their lives. Separate bombings were also reported on Sunday in the provinces of Logar, Nangarhar, Helmand and Badakhshan, in which a number of civilians and security personnel were killed and injured.
This clearly shows that spoilers are at work in Afghanistan, and all stakeholders need to beware of it.