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Pak-Afghan to hold high-level security talks

26 May, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan are set to hold high-level security talks in Islamabad next week. Pakistan and Afghanistan have not held any bilateral meeting since November when officials of both countries had met in Islamabad.

Afghanistan had stopped meetings with Pakistan under the Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) as it wanted a joint meeting of religious scholars in support of peace in Afghanistan.

Kabul had long been asking Islamabad to issue a joint “ulema” declaration similar to the one issued by nearly 2000 Pakistani clerics last year against suicide bombings.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s phone contact with Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 5 played a key role in normalization of relations. President Ghani had accepted Imran Khan’s invitation to visit Islamabad.

Sources told Daily Times that Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib would lead a delegation in talks with top Pakistani security officials on Tuesday. Afghan Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi will also be a part of the delegation.

The Afghan ministers will hold talks with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on anti-terror and security cooperation and peace process, sources said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is also likely to visit Pakistan in June, sources said, adding that the senior Afghan security officials would also discuss the president’s visit to Pakistan during their talks with Pakistani officials. Sources said Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Atif Mashal was playing an active role to bring relations with Pakistan on track and to revive high level contacts.

Meanwhile, ambassador Mashal, who is also President’s Special Representative to Pakistan, told Pakistan-based Afghans at a gathering in Islamabad that his country is hopeful Pakistan will play its role in peace in Afghanistan.

He said the issue of refuges, trade and people-to-people contacts should not be affected by political and security problems between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He underlined the need for enhanced trade relations and economic engagement between the two countries. “Pakistan will get more benefits due to trade relations. Afghanistan gives priority to trade ties with Pakistan,” Mashal said. He lauded Pakistan’s efforts for Afghan reconciliation, but called for more steps for solution to the problem. He also urged the Taliban to end war so Afghans could live in peace.

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