Sharif to visit Kabul next week: report
KABUL (PAN): Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is likely to arrive in Kabul next week for talks with President Hamid Karzai on a range of issues including how to push forward the stalled Afghan peace process, a source in the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul said on Wednesday.
Talking to Pajhwok Afghan News, the source said Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif would meet President Karzai, who had invited him to visit Afghanistan during a trip to Islamabad in August, and other senior government officials.
Earlier, President Karzai had said he would discuss with the Pakistani leader a range of issues.
A Pakistani newspaper The Nation quoting informed diplomatic sources said during Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Kabul, major joint declarations on establishing vital energy and communication links between the two neighbouring countries are expected.
“The visit is likely to take place sometime between November 30 and December 4 and dates are currently being firmed up through diplomatic channels,” the sources said Saturday.
Preparatory work for the PM’s day-long visit is almost complete and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq had arrived in Islamabad over the weekend to fine-tune the proposed plan.
The focus of the talks would be political and economic as agreed when President Karzai visited Pakistan in August.
Afghan peace and reconciliation process will be high on the agenda as will be collaboration in reconstruction, power and infrastructure projects.
Progress has been made on all fronts and it would be reflected in a joint statement to be issued after the bilateral talks in Kabul, according to the sources.
The two sides have reached an understanding on key areas of cooperation like infrastructure projects, communication and energy sectors.
Broad declarations on specific joint ventures, including Kunar dam, which has a potential to generate 1,500mw of electricity, Peshawar-Kabul motorway and other connectivity projects like Chaman-Kandahar railway line are expected to be discussed during Sharif’s upcoming visit.
Officials do not rule out the possibility of signing of a couple of bilateral agreements. Both the sides have agreed to jointly pursue the construction and utilisation of a hydroelectric dam on the Kunar River which flows through Afghanistan into Pakistan.
During his visit to Islamabad, President Karzai had said he expected Pakistan to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan and help arrange talks between the Afghan High Peace Council and the Taliban leaders.
Pakistan responded to the call and the council’s request by releasing a number of important Taliban leaders, including top commander Mullah Baradar, to help advance the Afghan reconciliation process.
In a latest development, Pakistan also freed three more Afghan insurgent figures, including Taliban supreme leader Mullah Muhammad Omar's secretary, in an effort to promote peace in Afghanistan.
The fresh releases came a week after a High Peace Council delegation, led by its Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani, visited Pakistan.
Mohammad Zubair Shafiqui, a political analyst, said Pakistani politics had been changing, adding several senior officials had been reshuffled and a new army chief had been appointed.
“Pakistan is facing greater insecurity these days and durable decisions at this stage can help ensure peace in both Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said.
Sharif had visited Kabul during Hazrat Sibghatullah Mujaddedi and Burhanuddin Rabbani’s governments after the collapse of Dr. Najeebullah regime, but then could not visit Kabul.
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