ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Monday that it was working with Afghanistan on a “comprehensive road-map” to improve bilateral relations between the two countries, which will be free of mistrust and will focus on constructive engagement and economic cooperation.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, who in a day-long visit to Kabul on Sunday, met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other leaders, told reporters in Islamabad that both sides agreed not to allow anyone to use their territories against each other.
“It was agreed during my visit to Afghanistan that Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used and Afghanistan will not allow its territory,” Aziz said.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have nearly 2,200 kilometer border, mostly porous, and both blame each other for loose control that enables the militants to illegally cross it.
For this purpose, Aziz said both sides had also agreed to put in place a mechanism for better border management. Further, discussions will be held on the issue of implementing bio-metric systems, opening of new routes and documentation.
“There will be a mechanism on local level so that local commanders could talk if there is any issue, then higher commanders, then intelligence agencies, then at foreign policy level the political level,” he said.
The adviser said that both countries will devise a comprehensive mechanism through which political interaction military-to-military interaction, foreign policy interaction and people to people interaction will be enhanced.
“This mechanism is being evolved and a draft standing operating procedure for border management has been prepared. These measures will address to mistrust. We will build economic and trade cooperation on their basis,” Sartaj said.
Mistrust and blame game between Pakistan and Afghanistan over the years badly affected bilateral cooperation on security matters between the two neighbouring countries.
He said that these issues will be discussed in coming days and will be finalised when President Ghani visits Pakistan, adding that the dates of the visit are being finalised.
No repeat of 1990s
During the Trilateral dialogue on China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Aziz warned that as Afghanistan enters a transition, there should be no repeat of the 1990s with outside attempts to fill any void in Afghanistan.
“Conscious of the lessons of history, Pakistan has been consistently stressing that there should be no repeat of the 1990s. In our view, every effort should be made to ensure that neither there is any attempt from outside to fill any perceived security vacuum in Afghanistan, nor is there any economic vacuum allowed to emerge.”
Aziz added that the international community’s enhanced engagement for Afghanistan’s economic development and reconstruction remains critical, as it would have “reinforcing effect on efforts for peace and stability.”
Trilateral contribution for Afghanistan
The adviser further listed Pakistan’s vision for trilateral cooperation contributing in the following areas:
i) Supporting Afghanistan’s efforts for peace and stability.
ii) Addressing common challenges of extremism and terrorism.
iii) Strengthening capacity-building of Afghan national security forces (ANSF).
iv) Reinforcing Afghanistan’s economic development, particularly in the mining sector.
v) Promoting connectivity for trade and energy corridors.
vi) Advancing a regional consensus on non-interference.
vii) Mobilising regional and international support for stability in Afghanistan.
Iran- Pak tensions
Replying to questions about the recent Iran-Pakistan border tension that have led to troop casualties on both sides, the Pakistani adviser said a large number of militant groups, smugglers and criminal elements are operating in the border areas who are responsible for the current escalations.
Iran and Pakistani troops traded fire along their border in Balochsitan which resulted in the killing of at least four troops on both sides.
Aziz said that both countries are working on a mechanism to enhance interaction of local security officials for interaction to ward off such incidents.
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