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Hurdles to trade through Pakistan reduced: Zakhilwal

Hurdles to trade through Pakistan reduced: Zakhilwal

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May 16, 2018 - 10:20

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Impediments to Afghanistaninfo-icon’s trade and transit through Pakistaninfo-icon have been significantly reduced as a result of fruitful bilateral engagement, says the Afghan ambassador.

Omar Zakhilwal, addressing the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan: Engagement for Sustainable Growth on Tuesday, appeared upbeat about Kabul's security and trade-related talks with Islamabad.

He credited an improved environmentinfo-icon for Monday's productive talks, where both sides agreed on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) framework of dialogue formulated by Islamabad.

"It took us only three hours to finalise [the APAPPS] and we will put it to implementation," the ambassador vowed.

"There is now more direct military-to-military contact. A lot of disputes that arise, now they directly talk to each other and defuse tensions along the Durand Lineinfo-icon [Pakistan-Afghanistan border]," Zakhilwal said.

He noted that both countries were working on more bilateral high-level visits.

Pakistan's National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua, while speaking at the conference, acknowledged China's proactive diplomacy was helping ease regional tensions. He stressed the need for both countries to separate politics from economic ties.

"Pakistan and Afghanistan should complement each other by becoming a trade corridor. And that is where China is a great help. ... Let’s value each other. Let’s make use of this opportunity. Let's engage ourselves constructively," Janjua said.

Tensions between the neighbours stem from allegations that the Talibaninfo-icon use sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to sustain their violent campaign. But Islamabad says fugitive anti-state militants use "ungoverned" Afghan areas to plot terrorist attacks against the country.

Janjua praised President Ashraf Ghani's recent offer of peace talks to the Taliban. The insurgents have not yet responded, and instead have intensified attacks in Afghanistan.

"It is for the first time that such an initiative has been taken and peace has been given a chance. We have not succeeded in Afghanistan because everyone has been investing in the war. This is for the first time that we are talking of peace," Janjua noted.

The Pakistani adviser explained the importance of Afghan peace for his nation: "We all are aware that we have got a war haunting our streets, haunting our children anywhere and everywhere, same as Afghanistan. That's why I say that we are partners in pains and sufferings."

China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, over the past two years, also launched a trilateral engagement at the foreign ministerial level, and the three sides are scheduled to meet in Kabul for another round of talks later this year.

“Terrorism is a regional problem, and I think a regional problem needed a regional approach to deal with it. So, we definitely want to engage Afghanistan, Pakistan along with other regional partners in successfully dealing with the challenge," Jing said.

jhk/mud

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