SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said Saturday that partnership with Pakistan is an important pillar of Afghanistan’s foreign policy, adding that this was a historical occasion to mend ties.
He was addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
He said adoption of practical steps would improve the bilateral relations of the two countries, adding that the Central Asia-South Asia Regional Energy and Trade (CASA) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) projects would help link the two countries.
Ghani said both countries were on the same page for abolition of poverty and underdevelopment, adding that people of both countries desired peace, stability and security.
The Afghan president also said that they looked forward to the visit of PM Nawaz in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Nawaz said the two sides recognised the need to build a strong relationship based on mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The premier said Pak-Afghan cooperation was imperative for peace and prosperity in the region.
He said they face formidable challenges, including terrorism, security, environment and transnational crimes. He said that we could only meet them by exploiting the full potential of cooperation collectively.
Nawaz reaffirmed that peaceful, prosperous and united Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s vital interest and also reaffirmed support for intra Afghan reconciliation process saying this should be fully Afghan-led and Afghan owned.
The premier said Pakistan is committed to upgrading cooperation in border security, defence, Afghan reconstruction, capacity building, parliamentary exchanges and cultural links.
Furthermore, Nawaz said Pakistan has been a second home for Ghani, adding that the latter has done significant work for the development of Afghanistan in the past as well.
Pak-Afghan delegation level talks at PM House
The press conference came after formal talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Islamabad. The contact is aimed at promoting bilateral relations in the realm of security, trade and economy, said a report published on Radio Pakistan.
PM Nawaz led the Pakistani delegation while the Afghan side is led by Ghani.
The two sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and holding threadbare discussions on ways and means to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.
Earlier today, a formal welcome ceremony in honour of Ghani was held at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad.
On the occasion, a smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces presented a guard of honour to the visiting dignitary. Anthems of both the countries were also played on the occasion.
Later, the premier introduced his cabinet members to the Afghan president while Ghani introduced his delegation to the premier.
Pakistan is one of the first countries President Ghani, who was sworn in in September, has chosen to visit. He earlier toured Saudi Arabia and China.
Ghani’s visit is being regarded as a two-day fence-mending mission.
Its outcome would indicate how the relationship has transformed with the change in government in Kabul from one marred with deep distrust to a cautious desire for cooperation.
Islamabad’s relations with Kabul, which have historically been tense and complicated, plummeted to new lows over the past couple of years due to reignited border disputes, counter-terrorism differences and exchange of allegations. At the root of the tensions between the two countries are unfulfilled expectations on both sides.