Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf will travel to Kabul next month in his first foreign trip since he assumed the country’s top office last week.
According to a foreign office official, the new premier is expected to visit Afghanistan in mid-July to discuss a range of issues, including steps to make peace with the Taliban.
In his maiden address to the National Assembly after being elected as Prime Minister, Ashraf said Pakistan considered Kabul the ‘most important capital.’
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar confirmed the PM’s visit to Kabul in the near future during a meeting with the Afghan Ambassador. She told Afghan envoy Umer Daudzai that PM Ashraf had accepted Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s invitation.
The foreign minister also informed the ambassador that she will lead the Pakistani delegation to the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, scheduled for July.
She said Pakistan will allocate US $20 million to support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Most of this amount will be used for capacity building and technical assistance to ANSF, said a statement issued by the foreign ministry.
During the meeting, the two sides also discussed issues related to border management, especially against the backdrop of the recent intrusion in Dir area by militants from the Afghan side. Khar voiced concerns over increasing attacks on Pakistani border posts and stressed the need for decisive action by the Afghan government against the militants operating from Afghan soil.
Briefing for PM on Foreign Policy
Prime Minister Ashraf was given a detailed briefing by authorities on various issues during a visit to the foreign office on Thursday. He was informed that talks between Pakistan and the US on the resumption of supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan through Pakistan were currently deadlocked over Washington’s refusal to offer a public apology for last year’s attack on a military checkpoint in Salala.
Officials said despite Pentagon’s recent optimism regarding a breakthrough, there was no indication that the two sides were anywhere near to striking a deal.
Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told reporters after attending a Public Accounts Committee meeting in the parliament that resumption of Nato supplies was in Pakistan’s interest. He said some progress had been made to break the lingering impasse on the issue of apology.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2012.