PM Imran vows to ‘do everything’ for a ceasefire in Afghanistan

Wants close cooperation between intelligence agencies: Islamabad, Kabul agree on intensified efforts to end Afghan violence

By: News Desk      Published: 12:48 PM, 19 Nov, 2020
PM Imran vows to ‘do everything’ for a ceasefire in Afghanistan

Pakistan and Afghanistan on Thursday agreed to pace up their joint efforts to reduce the recent spate of terrorist incidents in Afghanistan through close coordination and intelligence sharing.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a joint press stake-out at ARG Presidential Palace reaffirmed their commitment towards taking urgent steps leading to the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Imran Khan, who arrived in the Afghan capital on his maiden visit to the neighbouring country, held talks with President Ghani that focused on deepening of bilateral ties, intra-Afghan peace process and regional economic development.

Prime Minister Khan assured the Afghan government of Pakistan’s unflinching support and cooperation to end violence in Afghanistan including a ceasefire.

“Let us know where we can help you. We assure you that we will be there to help reduce slur of violence in your country,” the Prime Minister told the Afghan president, as the two spoke before the local and international media.

Imran Khan expressed concern over the increasing level of violence in Afghanistan and supported the idea of establishment of committees from the two governments to hold mutual discussions.

Prime Minister Imran thanked President Ghani for extending an invitation to visit Afghanistan, expressing confidence that it would lead to further strengthening of ties between the two countries.

He said Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoyed historic links and brotherly relations and recalled that during the era of 70s, Kabul and Peshawar were the favourite destinations for the visitors from both sides.

Imran Khan regretted that the people of Afghanistan, unfortunately, suffered violence for four decades and said Pakistan was most concerned about the situation due to the fallout of the situation in its own tribal areas. “My visit at this particular time has a message that Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan,” he said.

The Prime Minister said peace and connectivity was the best way to ensure the prosperity of Pakistan, Afghanistan and also the entire region. He said close cooperation between the committees from both sides and intelligence agencies would lead towards finding effective solutions for peace and stability.

He said Pakistan played a consistent role in intra-Afghan dialogue and noticed with concern the increasing level of violence despite the Qatar peace deal inked between the United States and Taliban in Doha, Qatar this February. “Now again to build trust, we will help the Afghan government to meet their expectations,” he said.

Earlier, President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the Prime Minister, saying the visit was a “step to strengthen faith and cooperation”.

“Our common focus will be poverty eradication and empowerment of our countries,” Ghani told the media persons on the occasion.

Ashraf Ghani acknowledged that Prime Minister Khan came to Kabul with an “important message to help end violence”. He said enduring peace within the framework of joint cooperation was important to lead towards a comprehensive ceasefire. “All of us need to understand that violence is not an answer, but an inclusive politics,” he said.

With PM Imran Khan’s visit, Ghani said a “foundation of trust was established today” to continue the journey towards sustainable peace. He announced to visit Pakistan in near future on the invitation of Prime Minister Khan.

The Afghan President mentioned that during his meeting with Imran Khan, the two sides agreed that respect for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was in the hearts and minds of every Muslim and stressed that the world must differentiate between the ‘negative comments’ from ‘freedom of expression’.

One-on-one meeting

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani met in Kabul on Thursday and discussed ways to strengthen ties between their countries. The meeting focused on further deepening the fraternal bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Afghan peace process, and regional economic development and connectivity.

The two sides discussed the prospects of resumption of peace in Afghanistan following the Doha peace agreement inked between the United States and Taliban.

President Ghani and Prime Minister Khan agreed to strengthen bilateral relations as the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan were linked through immutable bonds of history, faith, culture, kinship, values and traditions.

Imran Khan expressed confidence that his visit would help foster a stronger and multi-faceted relationship between the two brotherly countries.

Intra-Afghan dialogue vital for peace: Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday said intra-Afghan dialogue was vital to ensure sustainable peace in Afghanistan. In a meeting with Afghan Acting Foreign Minister Muhammad Hanif Atmar in Kabul, Qureshi said Pakistan would continue to play a reconciliatory role in the Afghan peace process.

Qureshi expressed satisfaction that Pakistan-Afghanistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability (APAPPS) was moving forward successfully.

He said Pakistan wished a dignified return of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and mentioned that in view of facilitating the Afghan visitors, the government of Pakistan had launched a new visa policy.

FM Qureshi said Pakistan had always been a staunch supporter of Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for lasting peace in Afghanistan.

He recalled that the recent visits of high-level Afghan delegations including Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Afghan leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Speaker of the Afghan Velocity Jirga Rehman Rahmani, would pave way towards further mutual understanding between the two countries.

During the meeting, various issues of mutual interest including bilateral relations, the Afghan peace process and regional situation.

Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar appreciated Pakistan’s sincere efforts in the Afghan peace process and for taking practical steps for further strengthening of bilateral relations.

PM’s Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq were present.

Warm welcome

Prime Minister Imran Khan was given a warm reception at the Afghan Presidential Palace as he arrived in the neighboring country on his maiden visit. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani received Prime Minister Khan on his arrival at ARG Presidential Palace, situated in the heart of Kabul city.

The Prime Minister reviewed the guard of honour presented by a contingent of Afghan forces.

President Ghani and Prime Minister Khan introduced each other with their respective delegations.

Earlier, Afghan Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammad Haneef Atmar and Afghanistan’s Special Representative for Pakistan Umer Daudzai received the prime minister at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

The Prime Minister’s entourage included Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PM’s Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Director General Inter Services Intelligence Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, Special Representative for Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq and senior officials. Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan and the embassy officials were present.

On the invitation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, this is Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first visit to Afghanistan since he assumed office in 2018.