KABUL - Pakistan's new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to visit Kabul next week for talks with President Hamid Karzai, a media report said on Saturday.
Sharif, who was sworn in as premier for a record third time on Wednesday, will try to get Karzai involved efforts to convince the Afghan Taliban into entering substantive peace talks.
Approached for comments, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul told Pajhwok Afghan News that President Karzai had invited the Pakistani premier, soon after he won an electoral landslide, to visit Kabul.
Asked if the Pakistani side had communicated dates of the trip to the ministry, Janan Musazai replied: "We have nothing new on it. I'll get back to you after checking with the Presidential Palace."
The prime minister had personally requested Maulana Samiul Haq, head of the rightwing Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (S), to use his clout in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, Dawn reported.
Senator Tariq Azeem, a leader of the ruling PML-N, confirmed Sharif's plan to visit Kabul soon. He was quoted as saying: “Yes, the prime minister has formally accepted an invitation from Karzai recently.
"He has decided to go there and dates of the visit are yet to be confirmed,” said Azeem, who added the two leaders would confer on a number of issues, including peace negotiations with the insurgents.
Meanwhile, a JUI (S) told the newspaper: “We have learnt through reliable sources that Sharif is scheduled to visit Afghanistan next week where he will primarily discuss with Karzai the core issues relating to talks with Taliban.”
JUI (S) Central Information Secretary Muhammad Asim Makhdoom said his party believed the Taliban would join talks if the new Pakistani government stopped US drone attacks in the tribal region, where TTP commander Waliur Rehman was killed in a similar strike earlier in the month.
“Since the US and Pakistan are seeking talks with the Taliban, we will have to ensure that drone attacks are stopped first. Therefore, the new government will have to be serious if it really wants to resolve the issue,” Makhdoom said. (Pajhwok)