Earlier this week, reports emerged that COAS Gen Raheel Sharif will travel to Afghanistan in the last week of the current month for talks with the Afghan government on modalities for resumption of the reconciliation process. Gen Sharif was initially expected to visit Kabul before the Heart of Asia meeting in Islamabad on Dec 9, but tensions in the relationship prevented the visit from taking place. However, During President Ghani’s visit to Pakistan, the two countries agreed to end the blame game and restart the reconciliation process from where it had been suspended in July following the disclosure of Mullah Omar’s death. The resumed process would function under a new quadrilateral framework also involving China and US, which in the earlier version acted as observers.
As the four countries wait for settlement of details, the timing and sequencing of the resumed reconciliation process, contacts with militant groups are already under way for convincing them to join the talks. Senior Afghan officials have expressed hope through their recent statements that Gen Raheel Sharif’s visit will not only provide an impetus to efforts for resurrecting a waning peace process but also help mend fractured ties between the two neighbors. An official belonging to the Ghani administration stated that the visit would have two dimensions; focusing on improving bilateral relations, but more importantly exploring options for talks with the Taliban.