Frank talks with Ashraf to yield results: Karzai
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Thursday said he had held candid and frank discussions with Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on ways of combating the scourge of terrorism in the region. He hoped the negotiations would be result-oriented.
In response to an invitation from Karzai, the Pakistani premier paid his first day-long visit to Kabul for bilateral cooperation talks on a wide-range of issues, including security, the Afghan-led peace process and trade links.
Addressing a joint news conference with Ashraf after the meeting, Karzai said they had reached agreement on certain matters. He had received certain proposals from the Pakistani side in this regard, the president said, without elaborating.
He called Pakistan a brotherly country, saying there was commonality of interests between the neighbours. Experiments of the past three decades showed that the situation in Afghanistan had impinged on Pakistan as well, he added.
During the last 10 years, terrorism in Afghanistan had gradually spilled into the neighbouring country, the president said, explaining their deliberations were focused on how to bring stability to the region.
Karzai revealed that a high-ranking High Peace Council’s delegation would visit Pakistan in the near future to discuss bilateral issues and hold follow-up discussions.
He said they also talked about enhanced bilateral trade, with the Pakistani side agreeing to grant multiple visit visas to Afghan traders.
About the strategic agreement between Afghanistan and India, he said the accord would have no impact on relations between Kabul and Islamabad. He added Afghanistan had signed similar agreements with other countries, but ties with Pakistan were stronger than with other countries.
Karzai said the issue of cross-border attacks from Pakistan into eastern Kunar province was also discussed with the Pakistani leader.
But Ashraf said there had also been attacks on Pakistani security forces from Kunar and the subject had been discussed. Efforts would be made to prevent such incidents in the future, he continued.
He said Pakistani itself was a victim of terrorism and that his country had never supported the menace because it was not in its interest. He said Pakistan and Afghanistan were two brotherly Muslim countries who shared common history, culture and problems and opportunities.
An exchange of visits between high officials from the two countries could help resolve problems confronting the neighbours, he believed, saying that Pakistan remained committed to supporting Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
The Pakistan leader said his country had announced $20 million in aid to Afghanistan at the Tokyo conference to help it maintain its armed forces. Islamabad would continue to assist Kabul with capacity development projects, besides granting 1000 scholarships to Afghan students.
Ashraf said the reopening of NATO supply routes into Afghanistan would help Afghan forces successfully assume the security responsibility as part of the security transition.
To a question, he said Pakistan was part of the solution, not the problem, saying they had played a facilitative role in the Afghan peace process and would use all means to make the process a success.
He said Pakistan wanted a stable Afghanistan because peace in Afghanistan interlinked to peace in Pakistan, saying brining peace was a joint venture which should not involve a third party.
Pervez Ashraf called the death of former Afghanistan High Peace Council chief, Burhanuddin Rabbani, a big tragedy for Pakistan, saying efforts were underway to arrest Rabbani’s killers, if in Pakistan, to bring them to justice.
In his remarks, Ashraf said he was delighted to visit Afghanistan weeks after being elected as prime minister -- a manifestation of the fact that Kabul was the most important capital for him.
“Like our past, our future is linked together,” he remarked, acknowledging that the two countries faced the common threat of terrorism. “We are committed to working together to eliminate this scourge.”
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