Afghans are hopeful that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s senior aide Sartaj Aziz’s visit to Kabul will yield ‘practical gains’ for peace in their country and the region, Afghan envoy Umer Daudzai said on Saturday.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz, who is scheduled to visit the Afghan capital tomorrow (Sunday), will meet President Hamid Karzai and deliver a formal invitation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit Pakistan. Premier Nawaz invited Karzai last month as well, but the Afghan president asked for a meeting with Aziz in order to finalise the agenda for his visit to Pakistan.
Although Aziz’s visit comes amid heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries, Afghan officials are confident that the visit will help promote peace in the region.
“Aziz’s visit will further strengthen the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Daudzai told The Express Tribune from Kabul by telephone. The envoy is in presently in the Afghan capital to prepare for the visit of the prime minister’s adviser.
The visit of the adviser is seen as an important move to lessen tensions and push for the reconciliation process with the Taliban. Aziz will begin his visit by holding talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalami Rasoul and will later meet Afghan Commerce Minister Anwarul Haq Ahadi.
He will meet President Karzai at an iftar, which will be attended by the head of the High Peace Council Salahuddin Rabbani and senior officials.
Afghan opposition parties also expect a meeting with Sartaj Aziz. A section of the Afghan media has quoted Hussein Fazal Sancharaki, spokesman for the National Coalition of Afghanistan, as saying that the coalition’s head, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, is likely to meet Aziz. However, no such meeting has been confirmed by Pakistani diplomatic sources in Kabul or by Afghan officials.
The visit of the Pakistani adviser is the first high-level exchange between the two countries after the new government assumed office following the general elections in May.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.