Pak rejects ex-UN official's remarks over Taliban peace talks being 'blocked'

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Islamabad, Mar.20 (ANI): Pakistan has rejected former UN envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide's remarks that the arrest of some top Taliban commanders in the country has blocked the reconciliation process with the extremists.

"The fact of the matter is that Mullah Baradar's arrest was a joint operation with the US and had nothing to do with talks or reconciliation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said.

Responding to the top UN official's statement, Basit said Pakistan itself has been calling for talks with the Taliban and Eide's remarks were a 'misinterpretation' of Islamabad's aims.

"Pakistan is committed to support an Afghanistan-led reintegration and reconciliation process. So, any other contentions, we believe, are a misrepresentation and misinterpretation of our intentions," he added.

Earlier, admitting that there were secret negotiations going on with the Afghan Taliban, Eide had criticised Pakistan for the arrests of high-profile Taliban leaders, including the second-in command Mullah Ghani Baradar, which he said has 'completely stopped a channel of secret communications with the UN.'

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has also questioned the basis of Eide's statement.

"I do not understand why has he given such a statement?" Qureshi said.

He reiterated that the arrest of Barader, who is considered second only to the Taliban chief Mullah Omar, was part of a joint operation between Pakistani and US forces, adding: "Islamabad has always backed reconciliation process in Afghanistan." (ANI)

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