ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan would on Thursday undertake his maiden visit to Afghanistan for seeking better ties with the north-western neighbour that have so far been marred by mistrust and blame game.
The Prime Minister Office (PMO), while announcing the trip, said Mr Khan would be visiting Kabul on the invitation of President Ashraf Ghani.
He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Adviser on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, and other senior officials.
During his visit, Mr Khan will meet President Ghani, besides participating in delegation-level talks, and speaking at a joint press stakeout with his host.
“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,” the PMO said.
Focus will be on deepening bilateral ties, peace process and regional economic development
The start of intra-Afghan dialogue with Pakistan’s help in September had provided an opportunity for resetting the ties.
Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Speaker Afghan Wolesi Jirga Rahman Rahmani and Commerce Minister Nisar Ahmad Ghoraini visited Islamabad over the past few months. Razak Dawood visited Kabul on Nov 16-18 for talks on bilateral trade and investment ties and matters related to transit trade.
The two sides have, meanwhile, reactivated Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) after nearly a year-long break. Its second review session was held in Kabul on Aug 31.
“The prime minister’s visit builds on the sustained engagement between the two countries in recent months for enhancing bilateral cooperation in diverse fields,” the PMO said. The prime minister’s visit will help foster a stronger and multi-faceted relationship between the two brotherly countries, it added.
President Ghani last visited Pakistan in June 2019. The two leaders had a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 14th OIC Summit in Makkah in May 2019. Mr Khan also had a telephonic conversation with Mr Ghani in September.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while speaking at consultative session at the Foreign Office, said peaceful Afghanistan is essential for peace and stability in the entire region.
He further observed that progress in intra-Afghan dialogue was crucial for the establishment of lasting peace in Afghanistan.
A dossier launched last week, which contains proofs of Indian sponsorship of terrorism in Pakistan, showed that most of those activities were executed by the Indians using Afghan soil.
The Afghan government, through a statement, “rejected the allegations” of use of Afghan soil. It further said that “as the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan prepares for the visit of His Excellency the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Afghanistan this week, it is expected that Pakistan would raise issues of bilateral interest and debate through existing bilateral cooperation mechanisms including APAPPS.”
Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2020