Pakistan a key pillar of Afghan foreign policy: Ghani
KABUL (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said Saturday partnership with Pakistan was an important pillar of Afghanistan’s foreign policy while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called his country as a second home for the Afghan leader.
Addressing a joint press conference with Sharif in Islamabad, Ghani said adoption of practical steps would improve bilateral relations of the two countries.
He added the Central Asia-South Asia Regional Energy and Trade (CASA) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) projects would help link the two countries.
Ghani said both countries were on the same page for abolition of poverty and underdevelopment, adding that people of both countries desired peace, stability and security.
The Afghan president also said that they looked forward to the visit of PM Nawaz in Afghanistan.
For his part, Nawaz said the two sides recognised the need to build a strong relationship based on mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The premier said Pak-Afghan cooperation was imperative for peace and prosperity in the region.
He said both the nations faced formidable challenges, including terrorism, security, environment and transnational crimes and they could only meet them by exploiting the full potential of cooperation collectively.
Nawaz reaffirmed that peaceful, prosperous and united Afghanistan was in Pakistan's vital interest and also reaffirmed support for intra-Afghan reconciliation process.
The premier said Pakistan was committed to upgrading cooperation in border security, defence, Afghan reconstruction, capacity building, parliamentary exchanges and cultural links.
Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan has been as a second home for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
The two leaders appeared at the joint press conference after formal talks aimed at promoting bilateral relations in the realm of security, trade and economy.
In their talks, Nawaz led the Pakistani delegation and the Afghan side was led by Ghani. They reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and holding threadbare discussions on ways and means to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.
Earlier in the day, a formal welcome ceremony in honour of Ghani was held at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad.
On the occasion, a smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces presented a guard of honour to the visiting dignitary. Anthems of both the countries were also played on the occasion.
Later, Prime Minister Nawaz introduced his cabinet members to the Afghan president while Ghani introduced his delegation to the premier.
Ghani arrived in Islamabad on Friday for a two-day visit. Ghani’s visit is being regarded as a two-day fence-mending mission.
Its outcome would indicate how the relationship has transformed with the change in government in Kabul from one marred with deep distrust to a cautious desire for cooperation.
Yesterday, President Mamnoon Hussain met his Afghan counterpart and assured him that Pakistan would continue to fully support a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
Ghani expressed keen desire to further strengthen bilateral relations with the people and government of Pakistan in all areas of mutual interests.
The Afghan president also met with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Raheel Sharif. He praised the efforts of Pak Army in combating terrorism.
During his meetings, Ghani has raised the issue of improved access to Pakistan’s markets for Afghan businessmen. His delegation of 145 includes businessmen as well as senior Afghan security officials.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US welcomed the prospect of improved cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and described Ghani’s trip as a good opportunity for that.
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