ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan differs with US President Donald Trump’s decision against talks with the Afghanistan Taliban and has conveyed this message to Washington, diplomatic sources said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan believed dialogue was the only way out for Afghan peace and wanted Trump to reconsider his decision to call off talks with the Taliban.

An official at the ministry said Pakistan had conveyed a message to Washington that there was no military solution to the Afghan issue. “We have held positive talks with the Taliban this month and we are optimistic the situation will improve. We have used the force and there have been no results,” he said.

This week, Donald Trump rejected the idea of talks with the Taliban, saying there was no justification for the dialogue process when the Taliban militants were carrying out deadly attacks in Afghanistan. The US President condemned the Taliban for the carnage in Kabul and pledged to “finish what we have to finish.”

He added: “I don’t think we’re prepared to talk right now. It’s a whole different fight over there. They’re killing people left and right. Innocent people are being killed left and right.”

Islamabad hosted an unofficial meeting with a Taliban delegation this month and was planning the next round before Trump’s statement. Foreign ministry officials said the recent meeting with the Afghan Taliban delegation was ‘positive’ which rekindled the hope for a dialogue process for peace in Afghanistan. The US was also briefed on the meeting.

Afghan Taliban confirmed the Islamabad’s visit saying they had submitted a report to their top leadership after interactions with the Pakistani officials and representatives from other nations, including China and Qatar, on finding a solution to the Afghan war.

In a Pashto-language statement circulated to the media, the Taliban said a five-member delegation from the Taliban’s Qatar-based Political Office recently travelled to Islamabad and held talks with the Pakistani officials.

The visit, the statement said, was undertaken after Pakistan offered to help find a political solution to the Afghan conflict and exchange views with the Taliban. Reports said the Taliban delegation comprised Jan Mohammed Madnai, Maulvi Shahabud Din Dilawar, Syed Rasool Haleem, Mohammed Suhail Shaheen and Qari Deen Mohammed.

Pakistan is pressing for talks to resolve the Afghan issue amid tension with the US after Trump’s tweet where he announced to suspend aid to Pakistan for allegedly deceiving the US in to the war on terror.

Pakistan rejected US allegations that it was not taking action against all the terror networks and also questioned Trump’s claim of giving $33 billion to Pakistan as security assistance. Islamabad claimed it had fought the anti-terror war largely from its own resources for the sake of the country’s and global peace.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said dialogue was the only way to bring peace in Afghanistan. He said the Quadrilateral Consultative Group involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States was the most appropriate forum to help take the Afghan owned peace process forward.

“Pakistan supports the dialogue process at all levels. Use of force will only deteriorate the situation. The military option has been used for 17 years,” he said.

Defence analyst Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi said there was no military solution to the Afghanistan issue. He said since the NATO increased use of power, the Taliban had also started retaliating. “All the stakeholders should sit together and find a peaceful solution. The use of force will push Afghanistan backwards,” he remarked.

He said the Afghanistan government should also show seriousness in talks with all the parties. “Eventually, they will hold talks so why not take this route now,” he argued.

Meanwhile, the second round of Pakistan-Portugal Bilateral Consultations was held in Islamabad yesterday. Additional Secretary (Europe) Zaheer A Janjua led the Pakistan side, while the Portuguese delegation was headed by Ambassador Pedro Sanchez Da Costa Pereira, Director General for Foreign Policy, Ministry of the Foreign Affairs.

The two sides discussed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, including in the spheres of politics, economy, energy, agriculture, culture, education, consular cooperation, parliamentary exchanges and people-to-people contacts. Avenues were explored to boost cooperation in the fields of trade and investment, said a foreign ministry statement.

“The Portuguese side was briefed on Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts and sacrifices, which were deeply appreciated. Views were also exchanged on regional and global issues of mutual interest, including peace and security in the respective regions. The two sides expressed satisfaction at their ongoing cooperation at the UN and other multilateral fora, and agreed to continue to support each other’s candidatures,” it said.

The Portuguese delegation also called on Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. Highlighting the achievements of the government, the Foreign Secretary briefed on the improved security situation, economic revival and increased investments in the country.

“The Portuguese side was apprised on Pakistan’s efforts for promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, relations with Iran, China and India, and human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” said the statement.

To institutionalise the consultations framework, a Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Consultations between the Foreign Ministries of Pakistan and the Portuguese Republic was signed during the meeting.