'PM didn't meet Taliban delegation'

By Shakeel Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan on Friday categorically refuted reports of a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and a visiting delegation of the Afghan Taliban.
A Doha-based Taliban Political Commission (TPC) delegation is in Islamabad on the invitation of the Pakistan government for a discussion on the prospects of the resumption of peace talks between the United States and the Taliban.
On Thursday, the visiting delegation of the TPC, led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the militant group’s founding member, had called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other senior officials, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Awan said, “Thedialogue with the delegation at the Foreign Office yesterday is a good omen for the [Afghan] reconciliation process.”
“The meeting is proof that Pakistan has always played a crucial role in creating a positive environment for regional and international peace,” she said. Awan said Thursday’s meeting between the foreign minister and the Taliban delegation was held to promote peace in the region and expressed hope that the meeting will produce positive results in the near future.
She also stated categorically that, “The Taliban delegation didn’t call on the prime minister. All news published and aired in this regard are, therefore, baseless.”
After the meeting between the Taliban delegation and the foreign minister, there were rumors that the delegation also met Prime Minister Khan, but a press officer at the Prime Minister Office had denied that any such meeting took place on Thursday.