LAHORE: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived here on Friday after spending in Islamabad the first day of his two-day visit to Pakistan.
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar welcomed the Afghan President at Allama Iqbal International Airport.
“We welcome the Afghan president in Lahore from the core of our hearts. President Ghani’s visit to Pakistan is indeed a new chapter in the history of Pak-Afghan relations,” said Mr Buzdar.
Afghan leader visits Lahore, meets Buzdar, Sarwar
The chief minister termed Mr Ghani’s visit to Lahore an honour and privilege for him and expressed the hope that with his visit, relations between the two countries would improve.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan need to work together for the sake of peace in the region. Peace is important for stability and prosperity of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. When Pak-Afghan relations will improve, trade activities will also flourish between the two countries,” said Mr Buzdar.
Speaking on the occasion, President Ghani said that he was happy to be in Lahore. Later, the Afghan president visited the Governor House.
Welcoming the Afghan president to the Governor House, Governor Chaudhry Sarwar said that a peaceful and strengthened Pakistan needed a peaceful neighbourhood. He said that road to peace in Kabul goes through Islamabad.
“We are facilitating the Afghan government in our fullest capacity to bring peace and stability there,” the governor said.
Mr Sarwar also discussed with Mr Ghani matters pertaining to Pak-Afghan relations, security situation in the region, terrorism and trade.
The governor said that terrorists and their abettors did not belong to a particular country or a particular nation, adding that these elements were against humanity in the region and it was necessary to eliminate networks of these terrorists to ensure peace in the entire region.
He said that members of security forces of Pakistan had rendered great sacrifices in their fight against terrorism.
The governor said that Pakistan had played a very positive role in bringing peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan as Islamabad was in favour of a political solution of the Afghan issue and it was a great proponent of Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
Mr Sarwar said that Pakistan believed that a peaceful Afghanistan was in the best interest of Pakistan.
Regretting that terrorism had become the greatest threat for the region, the governor said the need of the hour was to intensify collective battle against terrorists and their abettors. He said it was also obligatory upon other regional countries to contribute to the elimination of terrorism effectively to make the region free from chaos, disorder and terror.
“We hope that with your visit, both Pakistan and Afghanistan would come closer and enhance bilateral engagement through increased mutual cooperation,” the governor said.
Mr Ghani said that he was greatly obliged and thankful for the love, hospitality and affection he received in Lahore from Mr Buzdar and Mr Sarwar.
Mr Ghani said that he had fruitful meetings with President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan and added that Pak-Afghan relations would be strengthened in future and trade relations would also get a boost.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan are not mere neighbours, we are more than that, we are connected by Muslim bond of brotherhood,” Mr Ghani said.
The Afghan president also held a meeting with a delegation of Pak-Afghan Business Forum, led by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Abdul Razaq Dawood at the Governor House.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ghani said that though Afghanistan was a landlocked country, it could still play an effective role for an improved connectivity between countries of Central Asia and South Asia.
“Afghanistan is developing its infrastructure to come up with a new direction of connectivity through energy transmission and modernisation of transport sector in an effort to cater to needs of modern day age,” he said.
Mr Ghani also held a meeting with investors and experts in the education sector.
The Afghan president along with the governor offered Friday prayers at the Governor House mosque.
Later, Mr Ghani visited Badshahi Masjid, Allama Iqbal’s mausoleum and Lahore Fort.
Later, Mr Buzdar presented Mr Ghani a picture album of his one-day visit to Lahore. The Afghan president thanked the Punjab chief minister for the gesture.
Later, Mr Buzdar saw off Mr Ghani at the Lahore airport for his flight to Afghanistan.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2019