BEIJING: President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday held a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and reaffirmed Pakistan’s unabated support towards peace, stability and socio-economic development of Afghanistan.
The President is currently in the Chinese capital to attend the 12th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit.
Spokesperson to President Senator Farhatullah Babar, while giving details of the meeting between the two presidents, said Zardari recalled his meeting with the Afghan President in Chicago in May, and that he looked forward to the visit of his Afghan counterpart to Pakistan later this year to for the Quadrilateral Summit.
Zardari underlined the importance of close interaction between the two countries at leadership level to deal with common challenges.
The President said Pakistan has been participating in the Istanbul Process meetings and would also attend the Kabul Ministerial Conference scheduled for June 14. He hoped that the schedule of the summit, which is currently being worked out through diplomatic channels, would be finalised soon.
The President said Pakistan looked forward to the visit of new Chairman High Peace Council Salahuddin Rabbani to Pakistan in near future. Rabbani has replaced its former chairman the slain Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Zardari pointed out that Pakistan firmly believed that permanent peace and stability could only be ensured following an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process in that country.
He said an all-inclusive dialogue process was the viable option to find a solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.
He said keeping in view the importance of education for the children, the containers carrying books for Afghan children were being released across the border which has remained shut since a border incident in November 2011.
With a greater role outlined for the fledgling 300,000 strong Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) over the next 12 months, Zardari said Pakistan was in favour of a strong ANSF and had already announced an amount of $20 million to support it.
The President said Pakistan was also prepared to consider any additional requirement to be indicated by the Afghan side for the purpose of strengthening and capacity building of its security forces.
With at least 32 Pakistanis languishing in the Bagram prison, the President stressed upon his counterpart over the need for expediting operationalisation of a commission to deal with the issue of prisoners and detainees.
Discussing trade and economic matters, the President suggested that a facilitative visa regime for Pakistanis would make the prospect of Afghanistan to Pakistani businessmen and investors attractive.
He said Pakistan believed that a long term economic engagement in Afghanistan beyond 2014 was very important and expressed the hope that international community would extend full support to Afghanistan at the Tokyo Conference.
The President said economic development of the two countries, especially in the border areas, would help reverse the tendencies towards extremism. The border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have become a haven for militants and extremists alike.
He said there was a need to persuade the international community, the donor countries for investment and the US for expeditious passage of an economic package.
Karzai thanked President Zardari for the support Pakistan has been extending towards peace, stability and development of Afghanistan. He said Afghanistan was keen to further strengthen its brotherly relationship with Pakistan as the destinies of the people of the two countries were inter-linked.
More in PakistanNeurosurgeon’s murder: President, CJ asked for justice