Abdullah Abdullah begins Pakistan visit

FO says Afghan peace efforts on top of the agenda


Kamran Yousaf September 27, 2020
Dr Abdullah has been invited by Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss peace efforts as well as bilateral ties. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) of Afghanistan, will begin his three-day official visit to Pakistan today (Monday) as efforts are under way to seek a political end to the two-decade-long conflict in Afghanistan.

Abdullah, who is visiting Pakistan at the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, will be heading a high-powered delegation with Afghan peace efforts on top of the agenda.

The delegation includes prominent members of the HCNR, a statement issued by the Foreign Office said on Sunday.

During his visit, Abdullah will call on the prime minister and president and will have interaction with the Senate chairman, National Assembly speaker, foreign minister and other dignitaries. He will deliver a key-note address at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad and also have interaction with the media.

This is Abdullah’s first visit to Pakistan in his capacity as chairman of the HCNR. The visit will provide an opportunity for a wide-ranging exchange of views on the Afghan peace process and strengthening of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and people-to-people interaction.

"Pakistan attaches high importance to its fraternal ties with Afghanistan, rooted deep in shared history, faith, culture, values and traditions. Pakistan fully supports all efforts for peace, stability and prosperity of the Afghan people," the Foreign Office said.

"The visit of Dr Abdullah Abdullah will contribute to further strengthening amity, brotherhood and close cooperation between the two countries," it added.

Official sources said that the visit holds great significance as the two countries seek to iron out their bilateral issues through diplomatic means while Afghanistan is chasing a peace deal that may end four decades of civil war.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in an op-ed for The Washington Post warned against setting unrealistic timelines for the Afghan peace process.

"All those who have invested in the Afghan peace process should resist the temptation for setting unrealistic timelines," he wrote.

His remarks appear to suggest that the intra-Afghan talks may take time to evolve consensus, although Trump administration is keen to see some kind of deal among all Afghan groups before the presidential elections in November.

The intra-Afghan dialogue is still at early stage with two sides trying to agree on the rules of engagement and agenda. The Afghan government wants the Taliban to agree on a permanent ceasefire, a demand which so far has been resisted by the insurgent group.

Prime Minister Imran also cautioned against what he said hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan as well as spoilers.

"A hasty international withdrawal from Afghanistan would be unwise. We should also guard against regional spoilers who are not invested in peace and see instability in Afghanistan as advantageous for their own geopolitical ends," the prime minister warned.

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