Pakistan lends weight to Afghan peace bid
ISLAMABAD (PAN): President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani conferred on Saturday on the Afghan-led reconciliation process, peace in the region and the planned drawdown of NATO-led troops.
During a meeting at the Prime Minister's House in Islamabad, the two leaders agreed on enhanced bilateral ties, with special focus on stepping up joint efforts for peace -- a requisite for their prosperity and development.
The scenario after the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan was also discussed, according to a statement from Gilani's office. Gilani and Karzai are to address a joint news conference later in the day.
Late on Friday night, President Asif Ali Zardari assured the visiting dignitary of Pakistan's solid support for an Afghan-led reconciliation campaign, saying peace in that country was directly linked to regional stability.
Pakistan was ready to provide all possible support for the Afghan government's peace initiative, Zardari told a press conference after a hosting a banquet for Karzai in Islamabad.
"We remain willing to work shoulder-to-shoulder with Afghans for stabilising that country. If there is no peace and security in Afghanistan, no security would come to the region," Zardari remarked.
The counterterrorism war was their own, and they were not under duress from outsiders, he said, when asked about the international pressure on Pakistan after Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's killing in Abbottabad on May 2.
"Since the Pakistan People's Party has come into power, bilateral relations and trust has been strengthened with Afghanistan," the president said of his efforts to boost ties to the war-hit neighbour.
For his part, President Karzai praised Pakistan as second home to Afghans and acknowledged that it provided higher education facilities for Afghan students in addition to backing the reconstruction drive.
"The people of Afghanistan cannot forget the generous hospitality of their Pakistani brethren," Karzai said, adding the neighbours would continue their journey towards stability in the region. "This is a continued journey and I am confident we have laid a strong foundation for the generations to come."
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