Pak to facilitate meeting with Afghan Taliban commander: Sharif

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Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday pledged his support for Afghan efforts to seek peace with the Taliban, saying he would facilitate meetings with former commander Mullah Barader to boost reconciliation.
 
Addressing a joint news conference in Kabul after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Sharif made it clear that a solution could be found only through an "inclusive political settlement".
 
He said his government had released Baradar, who was captured in Karachi in 2010 and is seen by Afghanistan as key to bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
 
"Anybody who is sent by the (Afghan) president to Pakistan to talk to Mullah Baradar… we will make sure that such meetings would take place," Sharif said.
 
"The key to sustainable peace in Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond is an inclusive political settlement. I…urge all the stakeholders to seize this moment and join hands to support peace efforts," he said.
 
"It is imperative to reverse the destructive cycle of conflict." 
 
Pakistan has been jockeying for a greater role in Kabul's troubled peace process with the Taliban. It has freed over 35 Afghan Taliban commanders, including Baradar, to boost the peace process but analysts say the move has not produced the expected results.
 
Sharif said Pakistan will continue to extend all possible facilitation for the Afghan peace process. "This is the time to take decisive steps for moving forward the dialogue process and bringing it to a successful conclusion," he said.
 
He made a one-day visit to Kabul at Karzai's invitation at a time when Afghanistan is preparing for crucial presidential polls and the drawdown of US and foreign forces next year.
 
"We stand at the threshold of a consequential year in Afghanistan's history. In 2014, the Afghan people would take major steps towards becoming the masters of their own destiny.
 
We welcome this milestone and wish our Afghan brothers well," Sharif said after one-on-one and delegation level talks between the two sides.
 
"Our vision of a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood can only be realised by having peace and stability in Afghanistan and by forging cooperative ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said.

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