By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – Following a string of meetings with leading political figures, Afghanistan’s president announced on Sunday the formation of an Advisory Board for Peace in a bid to proceed with the country’s stalled peace process.
Addressing a gathering at the Arg (presidential palace), Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani reiterated that the advisory board would be inclusive and will advise the government on issues of national significance, including peace.
In an extraordinary series of meetings over the course of this week, Ghani separately spoke about the board with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Hezb-e-Islami party; Atta Mohammad Noor, Salahuddin Rabbani, and Ismail Khan, leaders of the Jamiat-e-Islami party; Abdul Rab Rasul Sayaf, a former Jehadi leader; and Vice President Abdul Rasheed Dostum, among other influential figures.
The consultation is in line with the call by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for the Afghan government and the Taliban to put together teams for eventual peace talks.
Khalilzad returned to Kabul on Sunday after spending three days in Qatar for discussions with the Taliban’s political office representatives there. According to local Tolo News, Khalilzad expressed hope of reaching a peace deal ahead of presidential elections set for next April.