Pak-Afghan tribal elder to meet in Islamabad

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Islamabad, Oct 14 (UNI) The much delayed Pakistan-Afghan mini-jirga or assembly of tribal elders is finally likely to be held on October 27 and 28 in Islamabad to evolve a unified voice against extremism and violence that has plagued both the countries.

The two-day talks come amid escalating violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan and intense fighting with Al Qaeda and Taliban on both sides of the border.

The talks being held as a sequel to last year's US-sponsored Pak-Afghan joint peace jirga, or council of elders, held in August in Kabul, had been delayed because of severe differences between the two governments over fighting terrorism with both sides accusing the other of escalating violence that has gripped the entire region, Dawn newspaper reported taday One of the key recommendations of the joint peace jirga was to constitute a smaller jirga consisting of 25 prominent members from each side, which would strive to expedite the peace process; contact the opponents; monitor the implementations of the suggestions of joint jirga and facilitate the convening of the next joint jirga.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Afghan counterpart Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta had last month agreed on convening mini-jirga after Eidul Fitr as the two countries agreed to renew contacts and worked out a road map for re-engagement at all forums.

The Pakistani side of the mini-jirga would be led by NWFP Governor Owais Ghani. The government had earlier assigned the lead role for the jirga process to the Foreign Office taking it back from the Interior Ministry.

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