Nawaz Sharif, army chief discuss Afghan peace process

By Islamabad

Published: Tue 4 Aug 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 4 Aug 2015, 8:56 AM

The top civil and military leadership on Monday discussed the Afghan reconciliation process in the context of the current regional situation and reports of infighting among Afghan groups on the question of succession.
During the meeting between Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the overall security situation and the progress of the ongoing 'Operation Zarb-e-Azb' was also discussed, according to the PM House.
The meeting came days after news of Afghan Taleban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's death and a day after his successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, cast doubts on a the fledgling peace process. The second round of face-to-face talks between Afghan government officials and Taleban representatives, brokered by Pakistan, was postponed following confirmation of Mullah Omar's death.
In his first audio message, Mullah Omar's successor gave mixed signals on the peace process. While calling peace talks the enemy's propaganda, Mullah Mansoor did not rule out negotiations along with 'Jihad' to achieve the group's objectives.
The fate of the nascent peace process was discussed during Saturday's meeting between US Special Representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel Feldman and army chief General Raheel Sharif at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
The US special envoy, who was originally in Pakistan to attend the second round of talks, hoped 'with all sincerity' that the talks would resume soon.
In a related development, senior Taleban cadres formally launched their own Shura, or council, saying Mansoor has been "elected by a few people in a haste."
The audio statement by Mullah Manan, who was speaking on behalf of Mullah Omar's family, could be a serious blow to Mullah Mansoor as the Taleban believe thousands of foot soldiers and senior cadres have sympathies for the family of their former spiritual leader. The statement came a day after Mullah Mansoor, in an audio message, called for unity within Taleban ranks to 'defeat the enemy'.
"We have not pledged allegiance to anyone and will not do so because of differences over the new leader," Mullah Manan said in the audio. Former Taleban minister Mutasim Agha Jan, who had been close to Mullah Omar, confirmed it was Mullah Manan's voice.

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