No hidden agenda in Afghanistan: Khar
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, on a fence-mending visit to Kabul, promised at a joint news conference with her Afghan counterpart that Islamabad would lend its weight to the reconciliation programme as long as it was spearheaded by Afghans.
Discounting a classified US military report that Pakistan aided the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, she said: "We can disregard this as a potentially strategic leak.” The minister characterised the document as “old wine in an even older bottle”.
Pakistan had always supported efforts at bringing stability to the country, she insisted, calling for an end to recriminations. "We have to engage at the end of blame game."
Islamabad remained committed to sincere cooperation with Kabul in jointly combating the scourge of militancy, which also threatened Pakistan’s unity, she remarked. An unstable Afghanistan would spawn volatility in the whole region, she acknowledged.
Hours ahead of her arrival in Kabul, a British newspaper citing a secret US military document alleged Pakistan's spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was abetting the insurgents in directing attacks against NATO-led soldiers in Afghanistan.
Based on material from 27,000 interrogations with over 4,000 detainees, the report claims the Taliban’s support among the Afghans is on the rise. Islamabad had detailed information of top rebel leaders’ whereabouts, The Times said.
In Kabul, a spokesman for the NATO-led force told Pajhwok Afghan News the classified document was a compilation of Taliban detainee opinions and ideals, based on their comments while in detention.
“It is important that this context be understood, and extremely important not to draw conclusions based on Taliban comments or musings...” said Jimmie Cummings.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Zalmai Rassoul described Khar’s visit as a new chapter in mutual cooperation, hoping Afghanistan-Pakistan ties would grow further with the passage of time.
President Hamid Karzai would visit Pakistan soon for talks on greater all-round cooperation, he said, stressing that the neighbours had no option but to step up their joint efforts at stabilising the region.
At a meeting after her arrival, she discussed with President Hamid Karzai the ongoing peace process and the threat posed to the neighbouring countries by terrorism. She invited Karzai to attend a trilateral meeting among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Islamabad will host the session in mid-February.
Islamabad could play a proactive role in promoting the peace negotiations, believed the president, who said insecurity had hampered the development of the two nations. Fundamentalism was a sinister conspiracy that had damaged peace in the region, Karzai said.
According to a joint communiqué, the two sides reiterated their commitment to steering bilateral relations in accordance with the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, mutual respect and the UN Charter;
Khar and Rassoul agreed on enhanced engagement for deepening interaction in the fields of security, development, transit, trade, investment linkages, infrastructure and energy connectivity and people-to-people contacts.
Recognising terrorism as a common challenge that required a common approach, the Pakistan side reaffirmed its support for the Afghan nation. They concurred that an Afghan-led reconciliation process was vital to reaching an intra-Afghan political settlement.
A joint commission will be formed to address the issue of prisoners, as announced during the visit of President Karzai to Islamabad in June 2011.
Documented annual bilateral trade has reached the $2.5 billion mark, according to the communiqué, which said the neighbours should take steps to enhance it to $5 billion by 2015.
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