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Pakistan, Afghanistan officials hold talks on security, bilateral ties


A Pakistani diplomatic delegation on Monday arrived in Kabul for talks with Afghan officials over bilateral ties and security issues between the two historically uneasy neighbors.

The day-long meeting followed a similar one held in Islamabad in June last year, under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), a platform for bilateral dialogue launched by the two countries in 2018.

“Our goal for holding such meetings is to cement the process of cooperation, understanding, and dialogue through the APAPPS,” a spokesman for the Afghan Foreign ministry, Gran Hewad, told Arab News.

Hosting the talks, the AFM said in a statement that officials would split into different working groups to discuss matters of security, the war against terror, expansion of bilateral economic cooperation, refugee issues, political cooperation, and cooperation in the Afghan peace process with the Taliban.

“(The meeting is) one of the most comprehensive platforms in bilateral relations between the two countries,” the spokesman added.

The latest round of discussions come less than a week after Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry invited Afghan Taliban political representatives from Doha, Qatar to discuss the peace process in Afghanistan with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, saying that they had agreed to a “peaceful settlement of the Afghan war.”

However, Hewad said that Monday’s APAPSS meeting was “pre-planned” and had “no link to the Taliban trip” or the ongoing efforts for talks between Kabul and the Taliban who had allegedly received financial and military support from Islamabad when the group was in power, and since its ouster, for fighting against Afghan and US-led troops.

Nasratullah Haqpal, a Kabul-based regional analyst, told Arab News that the Pakistani delegation might also raise Islamabad’s concerns over “India’s perceived influence in Afghanistan” and using the latter’s soil for fermenting unrest in Pakistan - New Delhi’s arch-enemy.

“I think we may not see normalizations of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan until the full completion of the peace process and the Taliban become part of a future government,” Haqpal said.

“If the Taliban become part of the current or future government, then India’s role or influence in Afghanistan will come down, then ties between the two will improve,” he added.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s embattled government, since assuming power in late 2014, has focused on forging closer ties with New Delhi and like many past Afghan administrations, Kabul’s relations with Islamabad has seen lots of ups and downs over the historical dispute related to border, trade, and most importantly, Islamabad’s reported ties with the Taliban.