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Top-level engagement agreed upon to boost Pak-Afghan cooperation

Updated June 11, 2019

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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Afghan deputy foreign minister Idrees Zaman review action plan for peace and solidarity. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Afghan deputy foreign minister Idrees Zaman review action plan for peace and solidarity. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday called for making bilateral ties framework with Afghanistan effective.

He was talking to Afghan deputy foreign minister Idrees Zaman, who was visiting Pakistan for the first review session of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), the bilateral ties’ framework agreed by the two countries last year.

Pakistan and Afghanistan had under APAPPS agreed to discuss political and diplomatic issues and matters pertaining to economy and trade, refugee repatriation, military and intelligence cooperation as the way forward towards better and stronger ties by overcoming their deep mistrust.

Put together with great enthusiasm, APAPPS could not progress too much over the past year and the engagements under the process came to a halt after few meetings because of sharp uptick in Taliban violence.

Qureshi, Zaman review action plan for peace and solidarity

The two sides have now come together to evaluate the progress achieved under APAPPS ahead of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s upcoming visit to Pakistan on June 27.

It would be Mr Ghani’s third visit to Pakistan. He first came to Pakistan in Nov 2014 soon after his election — a visit that created a lot of hope for renewal of ties — and then in Dec 2015 for the “Heart of Asia” meeting. The Dec 2015 meeting was followed by the formation of a quadrilateral group comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and US for facilitating Afghan reconciliation talks.

The process faltered after the killing of Taliban chief Mullah Mansour in a drone attack in Quetta. Pak-Afghan relations have mostly remained strained afterwards.

A statement by the Foreign Office (FO) said that Mr Qureshi and Mr Zaman agreed on high-level exchanges for strengthening bilateral cooperation.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Afghan deputy FM Zaman earlier led their respective delegations at the APAPPS review session.

“The session provided the two sides an opportunity to review progress made under this framework since the inaugural session and exchange views on further collaboration in agreed areas of cooperation,” the FO said.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2019