US peace envoy visits Islamabad as Pakistan-Afghan ties sour

By Times Of India

Washington’s point man in talks aimed at ending decades of war in Afghanistan made a brief visit on Monday to Pakistan as relations between Islamabad and Kabul reached a new low.

Zalmay Khalilzad’s visit came just hours after Afghanistan withdrew its ambassador from Pakistan late Sunday after the diplomat’s daughter was brutally attacked last week. The US envoy met with Pakistan’s powerful Army chief general Qamar Javed Bajwa but nothing was immediately known of their discussions.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have a long and troubled history, their relationship fraught with mistrust and suspicion. Each accuses the other of fomenting violence on its territory while also harbouring its enemies. Pakistan also hosts nearly 2 million Afghans, refugees from four decades of war in their homeland, and many in Afghanistan have grown up as refugees in Pakistan before returning.

Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad from Qatar where the Taliban and Afghan government representatives have held two days of talks that ended late Sunday, with a promise by the warring sides to meet again.

It was the highest level of talks so far, aimed at jumpstarting a peace process that has stagnated for months while fighting inside Afghanistan soared as the US and NATO complete their troop withdrawal.

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