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Pak ISI Chief visited Kabul

03 May, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar on Tuesday visited Kabul for talks on security issues, according to Afghan media reports.

Javed Faisal, spokesman for Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah, told Azadi radio that the ISI chief met President Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah and discussed security issues.

Section of the Afghan media quoted unnamed but 'credible official sources' as saying that the ISI chief also held talks with his Afghan counterpart Masoom Stanikzai and National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar. No more details about the meetings were shared with the media.

A Pakistani official, when contacted, said he was 'checking' the reports.

The visit of the ISI chief is the third high profile visit of Pakistani officials to Kabul in a week, being seen by many in Pakistan as 'ice-breaking' as the two countries have recently resumed bilateral contacts. It is also the first direct contact between two intelligence chiefs since they assumed offices last year.

The ISI-NDS interaction has taken place at a time when relations are at the lowest ebb as far as security matters are concerned. Progress on the lists of wanted militants exchanged by two countries could be one of the topics discussed during the meetings as both sides are concerned over the cross-border activities of armed groups.

A senior Pakistani Taliban commander Ehsanullah Ehsan spoke in a video leaked last week about the links between the Pakistani militants and the Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies, a charge later denied by Afghan officials.

On April 27, senior Pakistani military officials travelled to Kabul on the directive of army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to convey sympathies to Afghan officials over the human losses in Taliban attack on a major army base in Mazar-e-Sharif. Both sides used the opportunity to touch upon security issues, including effective border management, as lack of border coordination is one of the key irritants in bilateral relationship. The visit of a high-powered 15-member delegation of Pakistani parliamentarians to Kabul on April 29-30 was also a significant move as lawmakers had detailed discussions with President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai.

There are high hopes in Pakistan that Afghan leaders including Dr Abdullah Abdullah will visit Islamabad soon. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had extended the invitation for visit last year which was repeated many times. An invitation to former president Hamid Karzai was also extended by the prime minister early last year, but his visit is still due.

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