PM Imran to leave for maiden Kabul visit tomorrow

Published November 18, 2020
In this June 2019 file photo, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meet on the sidelines of the OIC summit in Makkah in May 2019. — INP
In this June 2019 file photo, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meet on the sidelines of the OIC summit in Makkah in May 2019. — INP

Prime Minister Imran Khan, on the invitation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, will leave for a day-long visit to Kabul tomorrow, the Foreign Office said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

This will be the premier's first visit to Afghanistan since assuming office in 2018.

He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Adviser on Commerce to the Prime Minister Razak Dawood and other senior officials, the statement added.

"The prime minister’s programme includes tete-e-tete with President Ashraf Ghani, delegation-level talks, and joint press stake-out. The focus would be on further deepening the fraternal bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Afghan peace process, and regional economic development and connectivity," it said.

The premier's visit is part of regular high-level exchanges between Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to the FO, "building on the sustained engagement between the two countries in recent months for enhancing bilateral cooperation in diverse fields".

The FO said Commerce Adviser Dawood had already completed a three-day visit to the country as "part of this process" and "held in-depth discussions on bilateral trade and investment ties and matters related to transit trade".

Other than meeting a number of dignitaries representing a cross-section of the Afghan government, Dawood had also called on President Ghani and discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to trade and economic integration.

During his visit, Pakistan and Afghanistan held a meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) to deal with problems hindering the smooth implementation of a revised transit treaty.

Bilateral relations

In September, Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Chairman Dr Abdullah Abdullah came to Pakistan for a three-day visit during which he met the premier, foreign minister and other officials.

Speaking at a conference at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad alongside the foreign minister, Abdullah had said that Pakistan played a "critical role" in facilitating the Afghan peace talks, adding that Pakistan had a "more important role to play here in not only supporting the process through a successful end but also in standing with the people and government of Afghanistan in building a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood".

"After many troubling years, we now need to go beyond the usual stale rhetoric and shadowy conspiracy theories that have held us back."

Ghani also visited Pakistan last year. Earlier, Imran and Ghani held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 14th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Summit in Makkah in May 2019.

The premier also had a telephone conversation with Ghani earlier this year in which both leaders resolved to make efforts to benefit from their geographic location to enhance regional connectivity and realise their true economic potential for socio-economic development, alleviation of poverty and welfare of people.

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