Upcoming Afghan talks ‘a positive signal’: PM

Says Pakistan’s engagement in sincere and consistent efforts will bring lasting peace in Afghanistan


Our Correspondent February 24, 2016
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif welcoming Afghan Wolesi Jirga’s Speaker Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi at PM House. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD:


Hailing the four-state Quadrilateral Coordination Group’s (GCG) efforts to resolve the longstanding conflict in Afghanistan through dialogue, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said the decision of talks between Afghan government and Taliban is a positive signal for the peace process.


Following its fourth meeting in Kabul on Tuesday, the QCG – comprising officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China – announced that representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents would meet in Islamabad by the first week of March for direct talks.

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“The GCG has been making good progress in right direction,” Nawaz said while talking to Afghan Wolesi Jirga’s Speaker Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, who called on him at the PM House earlier today.

“Pakistan’s engagement in sincere and consistent efforts for promoting peace and reconciliation through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process will bring lasting peace in Afghanistan,” he added.

While highlighting Pakistan’s vital stake in peace, stability and development in Afghanistan, Nawaz said he had a vision of comprehensive and enduring partnership with Afghanistan that contributes to the security and prosperity ‘of our two nations’ and reinforces efforts for regional peace and development.

“Pakistan attaches great importance to its brotherly ties with Afghanistan,” he said.

Recalling President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Pakistan in December last year, he said Pakistan’s focus is on enhancement in mutual trust that paves way for deeper engagement in diverse areas of cooperation, including security and counterterrorism, peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and trade and economic development to the benefit of both the countries.

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“Pakistan believes that terrorism is a common enemy and Pakistan and Afghanistan need to work together to rid the two countries of this menace,” the premier said.

He emphasised that Afghanistan must have an environment where Afghan migrants return back to their country with respect, honour and dignity on the right time,” Nawaz said as he offered help to Afghanistan in its infrastructure development.

Raouf Ibrahimi said Pakistan is the only nation which supported Afghanistan against external aggression in 1979. He said Afghanistan appreciated and applauded the role of Pakistani nation for hosting Afghan migrants for 30 years despite difficulties.

“Pakistan has hosted its Afghan brothers in an affectionate and caring manner. Pakistan is second home for its Afghan brothers and we must remain steadfast friends in every situation,” he added.

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Separately, the prime minister extended a very warm welcome to the newly appointed Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale – who called on him at the PM House on Wednesday – and expressed confidence  he will work to bring the two countries closer.

“Pakistan’s policy to pursue good relations with all its neighbours, including India, and mutual cooperation between the two states can lead to numerous benefits in socio-economic uplift of both the countries,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2016.

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