Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (left) chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation meets with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: The chairman of Afghanistan’s peace negotiating team, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, on Tuesday thanked Pakistan for its support for facilitating talks in Afghanistan aimed at ending war and pave the way for peace and stability.

The chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Dr. Abdullah, is on a crucial visit to Islamabad that offers the two neighbours an opportunity to overcome mistrust and misunderstanding while expanding people-to-people and trade ties. During the three-day visit, he met Prime Minister Imran Khan, the army chief, foreign minister, Chairman Senate and National Assembly speaker.


Pakistan’s role vital in peace process

“Hopeful about prospects of strengthening our bilateral relations,” Abdullah said on Twitter. He thanked Khan for Pakistan’s support for the Afghan Peace Process “aiming for stability, security, economic growth & a regional peace dividend.” The two leaders discussed the latest development in intra-Afghan talks and “stressed on reduction in the violence leading to a permanent ceasefire”. Dr Abdullah also expressed his gratitude for the Government of Pakistan for the initiative to further facilitate visa services for Afghan nationals, which he described as “a testament to the existence of strong and growing bonds” between the two nations.

During his keynote address at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Dr Abdullah said both Pakistan and Afghanistan have “paid a heavy price for peace by facing terror groups that are still acting as spoilers.” He said he looked forward to a “joint peaceful future” which “needs fresh approaches toward peace” that go beyond “rhetoric and conspiracies”.

Pakistan vows support to Afghans

Khan vowed Pakistan’s full support for the post-conflict Afghanistan on its path to reconstruction and economic development. “Afghan leadership would seize this historic opportunity to work together constructively and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement” he said. Terming the US-Taliban peace agreement “a major step forward”, the premier stressed that all Afghan parties must work for reduction in the violence leading to a ceasefire.

The two leaders expressed hope that the visit of top Afghan dignitary will “open a new chapter” in Pak-Afghan relations that will help “build a common future”. PM Khan also highlighted the immense economic potential that needs to be optimally utilized for mutually-beneficial trade and transit and assured that Pakistan would continue to undertake all efforts “to facilitate Afghan transit trade and deepen bilateral economic ties and people-to-people exchanges”.

Peace and development

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reiterated that a “political settlement” was the “only and the best way forward” for solving the Afghan conflict adding that “a realisation has evolved over the years that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict.” He added that reduction in violence leading to a ceasefire is a prerequisite for peace. Warning of “spoilers”, he said that an overwhelming majority of Afghans want peace. Emphasizing that terrorism is a common threat, he called for close cooperation through mechanisms such as Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) for effective border management.

Pak-Afghan economic partnership

Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to strengthen ties especially economic cooperation. Pakistan recently opened five border crossing-points for facilitating transit trade, bilateral trade and pedestrian movement at the request of Afghanistan government. FM Qureshi also shared that Pakistan has extended US$1 billion development and capacity-building assistance to support reconstruction and economic progress in Afghanistan. Pakistani FM called on his counterpart to “build a common future” for the two countries. Peace, he said, is essential for development. “If we want to see CASA 1000 and TAPI gas pipeline to become a reality then peace is a prerequisite.” Dr Abdullah also highlighted that “there is a huge untapped security, economic and political potential for cooperation among regional countries that should be utilized.