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Afghan president due today on Imran’s invitation

Top Story

June 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is paying a two day visit to Pakistan from today (Thursday) on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The visit has conspicuous significance in the wake of upcoming talks between Taliban and United States this week. The Afghan administration is trying hard to become a part of the parleys but the Taliban are not prepared to oblige it. The additional significance of the visit is presidential elections in Afghanistan where Dr Ashraf Ghani will be a candidate again.

It is believed that Pakistan’s blessing for any candidate has pivotal importance in the polls. Ashraf Ghani had also a brief meeting with Prime Minister Imran in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek early this month where they had gone to attend the 19th heads of state summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Well-placed diplomatic sources told The News here Wednesday that Afghan president is keen to muster Pakistan’s support for his election and opportunity for sitting across the table with the Taliban. The sources said that the Afghan president will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including ministers, advisers, senior officials and businessmen.

During the visit, President Dr Arif Alvi will have a meeting with President Ghani while Prime Minister Imran Khan will hold delegation-level talks. The wide-ranging talks between the two sides would focus on strengthening bilateral cooperation in diverse areas including political, trade, economic, security, peace and reconciliation, education and people-to-people exchanges. President Ghani will travel to Lahore tomorrow (Friday) where he will participate in a business forum attended by business representatives from both countries.

Ashraf Ghani will offer his Juma prayers in historic Badshahi Mosque of Lahore. Interestingly, Pakistan will be playing against Afghanistan in the World Cricket Cup in UK tomorrow and Afghan President will watch the match in Lahore. It may be mentioned that Ashraf Ghani when visited Pakistan last three years ago, a friendly match was organised between Pakistan and Afghanistan on the last day of his trip. He witnessed the match along with then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Afghan team “turned up” victorious in the match.

The sources reminded that it’s President Ghani’s third visit to Pakistan and follows the recently held first review session of the landmark Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity.

In a statement, the Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal Chaudhry has said that the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan are bound by fraternal ties reinforced by historical, religious, linguistic and cultural affinities. Closer engagement between the leaders will help foster a stronger and multi-faceted relationship between two brotherly countries.

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