ISLAMABAD: A day after its announcement, Pakistan, on Friday, postponed the Afghan peace conference scheduled to be held in Islamabad from July 17-19, 2021 until after Eid Al-Adha on the request of the Afghan government, as its delegation was already scheduled to hold talks with Taliban in Doha.

Top Afghan leadership, representing various ethnic and political groups, including representatives of President Ashraf Ghani’s administration were invited to attend the conference, which got postponed at the eleventh hours without mentioning any reason.

“The Afghan peace conference scheduled to be held in Islamabad from 17-19 July 2021 has been postponed until after Eid Al-Adha. The new dates of the said conference will be announced later,” Foreign Office announced through a brief statement without citing any reason behind postponement of the moot.

Pakistan, on Thursday, announced a three-day peace conference and invited representatives from a cross section of the Afghan political society other than the Taliban to participate.

Sources, however, maintained that the Afghan government excused itself from participation in the conference, citing its negotiation team’s pre-scheduled engagement in Doha to hold talks with the Taliban.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has also reportedly urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to postpone the conference.

Both Prime Minister Khan and President Ghani are in Uzbekistan, attending international conference on "Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities.”

Chairman High Council for National Reconciliation Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar, chairman High Peace Council and leader of Hezb-e-Wahdat Karim Khalili, former vice president Mohammad Younus Qanooni, former warlord and leader of Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Jamiat-e-Islami leaders including Ismail Khan and Ata Mohammad Noor, first Deputy Chairman of the Afghan Senate Sayed Hamed Gailani, member of Wolesi Jirga from Paktiya Sayed Eshaq Gailani, Abdul Rashid Dostum’s son Batur Dostum, the current first Deputy Speaker of the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament Mirwais Yasini and former Afghan envoy to Pakistan Umar Zakhilwal, were among the prominent persons that had been invited to the conference.

The development comes following the allegations by the top Afghan leadership – first vice president Amrullah Saleh – accusing Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to have issued an “official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the PAF” Pakistan, however, rejected the allegations.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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