ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanis­tan on Monday renewed their confidence in Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) as the most comprehensive mechanism for bilateral dialogue on issues of concern to the two countries.

This was agreed during a telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani. The Afghan foreign minister had called Mr Qureshi to greet him on his appointment as foreign minister.

Mr Qureshi too had in one of his earlier pressers expressed his desire to speak to his Afghan counterpart and visit Kabul.

Kabul urged to restore security arrangements for Jalalabad consulate

“Both sides appreciated recent improvement in relations since the launch of the APAPPS process in May 2018. It was noted that the framework provided the most comprehensive institutional mechanism to discuss all mutual issues,” a statement on the conversation issued by the Foreign Office read.

Marked improvement in relations was observed since the two sides agreed to operationalise APAPPS — the new bilateral ties framework. However, the Afghan side began questioning its efficacy after the recent upsurge in violence, particularly after the Ghazni attack.

Kabul had alleged that the Ghazni attack had been carried out by militants backed by Islamabad.

President Ghani went public with his frustration when he said: “Gen Bajwa, you signed a document with us and told me repeatedly in our conversations over the phone that when elections (in Pakistan) are over you will pay attention to it. I need answers now….From where they came and why are they receiving treatment in your hospitals.”

It now looks Afghanistan is again ready to engage with Pakistan under APAPPS.

“The two leaders agreed that the next round of APAPPS would soon be held in Islamabad,” the FO said.

The two foreign ministers also welcomed the holding of joint Pak-Afghan Ulema Conference in Islamabad, the dates for which are being finalised.

During the conversation, Mr Qureshi also touched upon the partial suspension of working of Pakistan’s consulate in Jalalabad over interference by the provincial governor and removal of security barriers around the mission’s premises.

“Mr Qureshi requested the Afghan government for restoring the previous security arrangements existing till 28th August, 2018, so that the Consulate General’s normal functioning could be resumed at the earliest,” the FO said.

Foreign Minister Rab­bani, the statement said, reassured a positive outcome soon in this regard and recalled his meeting with the ambassador of Pakistan in Kabul yesterday.

Till resolution of the issue, Pakistan in the meantime would continue issuing visas to patients or students residing in the jurisdiction of the consulate’s as an emergency measure, the FO said. Mr Rabbani extended an invitation to Mr Qureshi to visit Afghanistan, which the latter accepted.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2018