Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Pakistan on Thursday morning for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries.
Upon arrival at Nur Khan airbase in Islamabad, Ghani was received by Adviser to PM for Commerce, Textile and Industry Production Abdul Razak Dawood.
He met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Prime Minister House, where he was presented a guard of honour. The two leaders introduced members of their delegations to each other.
The premier and President Ghani later held a one-on-one meeting, in which matters pertaining to bilateral cooperation in various sectors and regional situation were discussed.
According to a statement by the Prime Minister Office (PMO), both leaders "agreed to open a new chapter of friendship and cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan, based on mutual trust and harmony for the benefit of the two peoples and countries and for advancing the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in the region".
Prime Minister Imran assured Ghani that he was "committed to bring about a qualitative transformation in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations as part of his vision of a 'peaceful neighbourhood'". The premier and Afghan president acknowledged that it was important to "craft a forward-looking vision of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations".
Both leaders also talked about Pakistan's role in the ongoing Afghan peace process, which Prime Minister Imran said was a "shared responsibility".
"[The prime minister] underlined that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process was the only viable option to end decades-long conflict in Afghanistan. In this regard, Pakistan supported a result-oriented intra-Afghan dialogue," the PMO statement said.
Prime Minister Imran and President Ghani also talked about economic ties and discussed the importance of completing the Central Asia-South Asia (CASA 1000) electricity transmission line and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline at the earliest.
The Afghan president also met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Ghani "appreciated Pakistan's efforts for peace process in Afghanistan".
The visit comes less than a week after Pakistan hosted dozens of Afghan politicians to discuss ways to end an 18-year-long war in its neighbouring country.
Ghani along with his ministers, advisers and a business delegation was invited for the visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
President Ghani will also travel to Lahore during the visit, which is his third tour to Pakistan since 2014, as efforts have intensified to reach a political settlement and end decades of war in Afghanistan.
The delegation-level talks between the two sides would focus on strengthening bilateral cooperation in diverse areas including political, trade, economic, security, peace and reconciliation, education and people-to-people exchanges, said Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Wednesday.
President Ghani earlier this year had accused Pakistan of meddling in internal politics of Afghanistan. He said the keys to the war were in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, where its government and military were based, and Quetta, the alleged hideout of a key group of Taliban leaders. Pakistani officials deny supporting the Taliban and say Islamabad favours a political settlement to maintain stability in Afghanistan, but Afghan officials remain cautious.
'Pakistan stands ready to help Afghan reconstruction'
President Alvi in a delegation-level meeting with his Afghan counterpart expressed Pakistan's resolve to assist Afghanistan during its post-war reconstruction phase.
"Besides playing its role in the peace process, [Pakistan stands] ready to help Afghan reconstruction and development efforts," said an official statement released by the President House following the meeting.
It stated that the president also "underlined the need for the world community’s engagement with Afghanistan in the post-settlement phase".
President Alvi affirmed Pakistan’s resolve to forge "a closer relationship with Afghanistan marked by deeper cooperation in all spheres," an official statement said.
The two presidents acknowledged that building a relationship that served the cause of peace, security and prosperity was in the best interest of the two countries.
"All aspects of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations came under review during the meeting," said the statement, adding that special emphasis was laid on "enhanced political, trade, economic, commercial, educational and people-to-people ties with Afghanistan".
The two leaders further recognised that increased connectivity between the two countries, especially with the adoption of newer technologies, "would help accelerate the trade and energy flows and contribute to the prosperity of the two countries and the region".
A banquet dinner was later hosted by President Alvi in honour of President Ghani and his accompanying delegation.
'Good to see Afghan govt taking different approach'
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said that President Ghani's visit was in line with Prime Minister Imran's "vision to promote peace and prosperity in the region and move towards resolution of conflicts", Radio Pakistan reported.
She hoped that the visit would boost bilateral ties and said: "It is good to see that Afghan leadership is talking with a different approach."
Awan added that the government was looking to increase bilateral trade with Afghanistan as well as boost cultural ties.