In an attempt to normalise ties, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday held a one on one meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of Global Sustainable Transport Conference in Ashgabat.
The premier reaffirmed Pakistan’s firm commitment to the efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan, said a statement of the PM’s House.
In this regard, he stressed on the need for enhancing bilateral political interaction, security coordination, trade and transit, connectivity and people to people exchanges.
Emphasising that politically negotiated settlement through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process is the most viable option for lasting peace, Nawaz said that Pakistan would continue its efforts to facilitate the process. He also expressed support to the peace agreement between the Afghan government and Hizb-e-Islami.
The two leaders also discussed the need for cooperation to combat the scourge of terrorism, terming it a common enemy and a serious challenge to peace in both the countries and the region. The premier stressed that eliminating this menace required effective coordination between security, intelligence and counter-terrorism institutions of the two countries.
Nawaz and Ghani also agreed on the need for continued engagement in other areas, including coordination for smooth, safe and dignified repatriation of Afghan refugees and their sustainable reintegration. President Ghani thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for more than three decades.
Later, addressing the conference, PM Nawaz announced that Pakistan is set to join the Ashgabat Agreement and Lapis Lazuli Corridor.
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif spoke to Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah over the phone, DG ISPR Asim Bajwa confirmed. According to Bajwa, Gen Raheel made a ‘farewell call’ to Abdullah.
“Gen Raheel is also scheduled to call Ashraf Ghani,” Bajwa told The Express Tribune in a text message.
The two-day Global Sustainable Transport Conference began in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on Saturday to highlight the fundamental role of sustainable transport in fighting climate change.
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Addressing the conference, PM Nawaz said, “Regional connectivity and economic integration are key pillars of Pakistan’s policy.
“Development of transport sector is Pakistan’s top priority,” he said, adding that Pakistan can become the centre of regional ties.
The premier said peaceful neighbourhood has remained the norm of Pakistan’s foreign policy and no development policies can yield fruit without peace and security.
The conference will discuss role of integrated and sustainable transport including rail, aviation, ferry and maritime in supporting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
Pakistan is keen on improving connectivity with Central Asian States by establishing transport and communication links. These links will be conducive to tap the potential of trade, economic interaction, people-to-people contacts and tourism.