ISLAMABAD: Ustad Karim Khalili, top Shia leader of the Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Afghanistan, called on Prime Minster Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa separately, here on Tuesday and discussed bilateral and other issues.
Khalili is an ethnic Hazara leader of Afghanistan and his visit is seen as part of an effort to repair the troubled relations between the two neighbouring countries in parallel with the peace talks under way in Qatar between the Afghan government negotiators and the Taliban.
COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa told the visiting Afghan leader that Pakistan at peace with its neighbours was in its own interest. “Peace in Afghanistan means Peace in Pakistan.” A stable and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbours is in Pakistan’s national interest, the COAS told Khalili, chairman Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Afghanistan and former chairman Afghan High Peace Council.
Matters of mutual interest, peace and stability in the region, connectivity and current developments in Afghan peace process were discussed during the meeting, the ISPR said.
The visiting Afghan leader appreciated the positive role played by Pakistan and the COAS vision on future of Pak-Afghan relations.
Separately, during the meeting with the Afghan delegation, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that neighbouring country India was spoiling the peace situation in Afghanistan. He cautioned against the role of ‘spoilers’ within and outside Afghanistan, who did not
wish to see return of peace in that country and the region. The FM reiterated Pakistan’s call on all sides to take measures for reduction in violence in Kabul, leading to the ceasefire. As only peace and stability would provide a strong impetus to economic development, regional integration and connectivity, benefiting Afghanistan and the region, he added.
Dignified return of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan, once there is peace and stability, was also raised by Qureshi.
Karim Khalili appreciated various steps taken by Pakistan to strengthen trade between the two countries and facilitate Afghan nationals through revised visa policy, according to the foreign minister’s office. He also thanked Pakistan for its consistent support to Afghanistan, particularly in the peace process and for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for the last many decades.
During a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, both sides exchanged views on the progress in the Afghan peace process and bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The PM conveyed Pakistan’s commitment to strengthen the bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, including trade and economic ties and people-to-people linkages. He underscored his longstanding position that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that a negotiated political settlement was the only way forward.
Noting that the Afghan people had suffered gravely due to prolonged conflict in the country, the PM stressed that after the Afghan people, Pakistan was most desirous of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Reiterating Pak consistent support to the Afghan peace process, the PM underscored that the Intra-Afghan negotiations process must be pursued with perseverance and patience for an inclusive and broad-based solution.
Imran Khan recalled his recent interaction with Afghan leaders and underlined that Pakistan’s message to all sides was to work together for a peaceful solution. He particularly underscored the importance of reduction in violence leading to ceasefire. The PM added that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would open up new vistas of cooperation in trade and regional connectivity.
He also assured the Afghan delegation of Pakistan’s continued support for human resources development through scholarships and socio-economic development projects in Afghanistan.
Khalili’s visit is part of Pakistan’s policy “to reach out to political leadership in Afghanistan to forge common understanding on the Afghan peace process,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
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