ISLAMABAD: In a landmark development, Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed yet another time to open a new chapter of friendship and cooperation based on mutual trust and harmony for the benefit of two peoples and for advancing the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
The consensus developed during a one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani here on Thursday, followed by delegation level talks. The two leaders exchanged views on the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
Prime Minister Imran Khan affirmed that Pakistan remained committed to bringing about a qualitative transformation in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations as part of his vision of a "peaceful neighbourhood."
Ashraf Ghani is visiting Pakistan after more than three years. The visit could help dispel misgivings between two brotherly neighbouring countries. The two leaders agreed on the importance of crafting a forward-looking vision of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations.
Imran Khan reiterated Pakistan's commitment to support the Afghan peace process as a shared responsibility. He underlined that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process was the only viable option to end the decades-long Afghan conflict.
Khan said Pakistan supported a result-oriented intra-Afghan dialogue and underscored Pakistan's respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and its commitment to stand by the Afghan people at this crucial juncture. He said Pakistan remained committed to a peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan and wished to have stronger political, trade, economic, and people-to-people relations with it.
The two leaders agreed that enduring peace in Afghanistan would bring rich economic dividends to both the countries. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together to broaden and deepen bilateral trade, streamline transit trade, and strengthen efforts for connectivity.
It was agreed to optimally utilise the existing mechanisms, including Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority and Joint Economic Commission, to remove difficulties in transit and bilateral trade and to explore new possibilities of mutually-beneficial economic and commercial relations.
There was also an exchange of views on regional issues. Imran shared his vision for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia. Talking to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi afterwards, President Ashraf Ghani appreciated Pakistan's efforts in the Afghan peace process. Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan will continue to play its reconciliatory role for peace in Afghanistan with sincerity, good intentions and open heart.
He said Pakistan always emphasised result-oriented talk, believing that this was the only way to establish durable peace in Afghanistan. Qureshi said Afghan people had suffered a lot due to instability in the country for decades.
The foreign minister said the Afghan president's visit will bring the two countries closer and strengthen bilateral relations. The two sides agreed to implement the strategy of peace and brotherhood for betterment and welfare of the peoples of the two countries.
Earlier, a warm welcome was accorded to the Afghan president on arrival in Islamabad for two days. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood and other Pakistani officials received him at the Nur Khan Airbase.
The visiting dignitary was given a 21-gun salute on arrival. President Ashraf Ghani also met the opposition leaders and the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and will be visiting Lahore today (Friday) where he will attend a business conference.
President Ghani also met the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Bilawal welcomed the Afghan president on his visit to Pakistan and expressed his wishes for stability and peace in Afghanistan.
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