Pakistani leader to talk with Afghan Taliban in Qatar

Indo Asian News Service

Islamabad, Feb 10 (IANS) Pakistani political leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman has gone on a "private visit" to Qatar to hold talks with the Afghan Taliban, a media report said Sunday.

Rehman, the chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F), was playing a "pivotal role" in the Afghan peace process, party leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed was quoted as saying by the Dawn.

Ahmed said the use of force was not a solution to the conflict between the Taliban and the military, and urged them to sit on the negotiating table to restore peace in the region.

The leader also urged the Pakistani government and the army to take seriously the offer for talks by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.

JUI-F spokesman Abdul Jalil Jan, however, only said that Rehman had gone abroad on a "private visit".

Western media reports say the US is in contact with the Taliban in Qatar to persuade the outfit to initiate negotiations with the Afghan government, as Washington prepares for the withdrawal of troops by 2014.

Another party leader, Sirajul Haq, said the Pakistani government was looking towards the US for a "signal" after the negotiation offer by the Taliban.

"The government is not sincere in peace negotiations and is waiting for dictation from Americans," he said.

He said if the US could hold talks with the Taliban, there was no reason why Pakistan could not do so.