Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will leave for a day-long visit to Kabul today where he is expected to discuss the political and security situation of Afghanistan with the country’s top leadership.
The visit follows an invitation by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and comes in the backdrop of Pakistan’s support to Ghani’s peace offering to the Taliban and wish of strengthening bilateral engagement with Islamabad.
During the visit, Abbasi will hold in-depth consultations with Ghani and Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah on matters of mutual interest, including strengthening of bilateral political, economic, security and counter-terrorism cooperation, repatriation of Afghan refugees, combating drug production and narco-trade, Afghan peace process and regional political and security situation, said a statement by the Foreign Office (FO).
“Pakistan will continue to support Afghan government’s development efforts through capacity building in infrastructure, educational and health sectors in Afghanistan,” it said further.
The statement further read that Islamabad also aspires to deepen people-to-people contacts and in this regard, the prime minister would discuss with the Afghan leadership ways to facilitate travel between the two countries, assist education and medical treatment of Afghan nationals in Pakistan and expand trade and transit facilitation between the two countries. Pakistan and Afghanistan are participating in key trans-regional initiatives namely Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000) to promote regional economic integration.
Abbasi had visited Afghanistan in February this year to inaugurate the TAPI gas pipeline project. The two sides are also engaged in undertaking major bilateral rail-road connectivity projects.
Pakistan urges Kabul to avoid ‘blame games’
The promising atmosphere surrounding the trip was marred Thursday night after Pakistan urged Kabul to refrain from ‘blame games’ following allegations by Afghanistan that the Pakistan Air Force violated Afghan airspace.
FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said in a series of tweets clarified that Pakistani security forces are undertaking counter-terrorism operations in Bajaur Agency, directed against terrorist groups who continue to attack Pakistan from their sanctuaries based on Afghan soil.
“Pakistan urges Afghanistan to focus on taking effective counter-terrorism actions including plugging of large gaps existing along the Afghan side of Pakistan-Afghanistan border to prevent the targeting of Pakistani civilians and security forces by terrorists from Afghan soil,” he said in one of the tweets.
US Department of State’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice Wells completed a week-long visit to Pakistan on April 3 where she held meeting with top civil and military officials.
She noted the meaningful role that Pakistan, partnering with the United States, could play in achieving a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan, a press release by the US embassy had said.
After her meeting with the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa, the army had said in a statement that Pakistan also expects other players in the region to play an equally positive part.
Earlier this week, a high-level Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua met President Ghani and other Afghan officials to discuss various important issues.
The delegation comprised senior civil and military officials, including Director General Military Operations Maj Gen Shamshad Mirza. It arrived in Afghanistan to hold talks on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).
Prior to that, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua also held separate meetings with President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah during his visit to Kabul.
It was during his meeting with Janjua that Ghani invited Abbasi to Kabul to “initiate a state-to-state comprehensive dialogue.”