ISLAMABAD: The new Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral engagement framework — Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) — became operational on Monday with both sides hoping that its implementation would contribute to promoting peace in the region.

“Both sides agreed that effective and full implementation of APAPPS would contribute towards the common objectives of eliminating terrorism and achieving peace, stability, prosperity and development of the people of the two countries,” a statement jointly issued by the foreign ministries of Pakistan and Afghanistan said.

Earlier, the Foreign Office hosted a meeting of APAPPS. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani side at the meeting, whereas Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai headed the Afghan delegation. It was the fourth meeting of APAPPS.

The two sides had consumed the earlier three rounds negotiating the contours of the framework, but an agreement remained elusive till Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Kabul last month and met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Islamabad, Kabul hope the action plan will contribute to promoting peace in region

The two leaders had on that occasion agreed on the new framework and tasked their foreign ministers and national security advisers with concluding the agreement.

The seven principles agreed between Pakistan and Afghanistan for the new framework for engagement included commitments that Pakistan would support the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation; the two countries would undertake effective actions against fugitives and the irreconcilable elements posing security threats to either of the two countries; both countries would deny use of their respective territory by any country, network, group or individuals for anti-state activities against either country; they would put in place a joint supervision, coordination and confirmation mechanism through liaison officers for realisation of the agreed actions; territorial and aerial violations of each other’s territory would be avoided; there would be no public blame game and instead APAPPS cooperation mechanisms would be utilised to respond to mutual issues of contention and concerns; and working groups and necessary cooperation mechanism would be set up as per APAPPS.

Both sides have operationalised six working groups, including the ones on security and intelligence cooperation.

APAPPS is a Pakistani initiative for cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism and reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation, refugees’ repatriation and joint economic development. The plan enjoys the backing of both China and the United States.

“APAPPS provides a framework to strengthen mutual trust and deepen interaction in all spheres of bilateral engagements. It is also a mechanism for finding solutions to bilateral areas of concern,” the joint statement issued by Islamabad and Kabul said.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2018

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