Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is expected to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday on the sidelines of the latest round of international talks on Afghanistan’s future.
Khar will be attending the day-long Friendship and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia (FCHA) conference where representatives from 29 countries will gather to explore ways to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Khar will also meet Karzai separately to discuss the agenda for Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s upcoming visit to Afghanistan, Afghan Ambassador Omar Daudzai told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
Gilani is scheduled to visit Kabul next week, Daudzai said, adding that he was currently busy with preparations for Khar’s visit.
The PM’s visit will mark revival of peace and reconciliation efforts between Kabul and Islamabad, which had stalled after the assassination of Afghanistan’s top peacemaker Burhanuddin Rabbani in September.
The Afghan ambassador said Pakistan had also extended an invitation to the newly appointed chief of the country’s High Peace Council, Salahuddin Rabbani. Afghanistan has accepted the invitation and the dates could be discussed during the foreign minister’s and the prime minister’s visits.
Heart of Asia conference
The first FCHA was held in Istanbul in June 2010. Foreign ministers and representatives from 29 countries, including the US, Pakistan, India, Iran, China, Russia, Central Asia states and Turkey, will attend the conference.
Daudzai said the conference would focus on seven issues, including the fight against terrorism, narcotics, organised crime as well as adopting practical and specific measures to prevent natural disasters.
He said the conference will discuss two other specific issues –creation of a solid framework for talks on political issues between high-level officials.
The conference will reiterate support for an inclusive Afghan reconciliation process, which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-driven and in accordance with the Constitution of Afghanistan, Daudzai said.
Pressure on Islamabad
Pakistan’s alleged resistance to cracking down on militant sanctuaries will be highlighted during the conference, analysts suggest.
“I believe the Afghan government will seize the opportunity in this conference to put added pressure on Pakistan to deal with this problem more seriously,” Najib Mahmood, a political science lecturer at Kabul University, told AFP.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in Afghanistan last week that the United States was running out of patience with Pakistan’s refusal to eliminate terror havens.
The Afghan foreign ministry said Kabul would do whatever it took to combat the threat of terrorism posed to the world and to Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan has been affected by this menace in the worst possible way, of course we will make all efforts in this conference to find a solution for the problem of terrorism,” said spokesman Faramerz Tamana.
Meanwhile, Islamabad reiterated it was doing everything in its power to fight terrorism and extremism.
“Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used against any country, nor will it allow any safe havens on its territory,” foreign ministry spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan told AFP.
(With Additional input from AFP)
Published In The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.