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After Afghans, Pakistanis have the greatest stake in Afghanistan's peace: PM Imran

REPORT-4-ENG-21-11-2020-Pak

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday reiterated that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, saying peace in the neighbouring country will bring prosperity to both Afghans and Pakistanis.

"After the Afghans, we have the greatest stake in this peace as it will allow for connectivity & trade, bringing prosperity to both Afghans & Pakistanis," the premier tweeted, a day after he paid his maiden visit to Kabul since assuming office in 2018.

He said the residents of Pakistan's tribal areas, "who have suffered the ravages of the war in Afghanistan", will especially benefit from peace and trade.

Prime Minister Imran added that his visit "was another step towards conveying Pakistan's commitment to peace in Afghanistan. I have never believed in military solutions which is why I always believed that in Afghanistan, peace will be achieved through political dialogue."

On Thursday, the prime minister assured the Afghan leadership of Pakistan’s full cooperation for reduction in violence in Afghanistan as he sought to fix bilateral ties that have for long been weighed down by mutual mistrust.

Imran both publicly extended this assurance and included it in the official communique on his day-long trip to Kabul that followed a series of confidence-building measures and a flurry of high-level exchanges aimed at creating a conducive environment for transforming the relationship into a cooperative one.

“If you feel there is somewhere Pakistan can help, please let us know. […] We assure you that we will do whatever is within our reach,” the premier said at a joint media talk with President Ashraf Ghani.

The prime minister said that the main purpose of undertaking the trip, one he described as “historic”, was to assure the Afghan leadership that despite the increase in violence, Pakistan’s major concern remained “peace in Afghanistan”.

Pakistan first facilitated months-long talks between the US and Taliban, whose successful culmination last February paved the way for intra-Afghan dialogue and later helped the Afghans to settle their differences and start the talks in Doha in November.

The talks have so far failed to make progress and the two sides (Afghan government and Taliban) have been blaming each other for the stalemate, whereas violence has increased in the war-torn country.

This was the first visit by a top Pakistani leader since the intra-Afghan dialogue began. It was followed closely on the heels of the US announcement of reduction in the number of troops from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January.

A statement on his visit issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said he “called on all sides for taking necessary measures for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire to protect Afghan lives”.

Prime Minister Imran reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to “a peaceful, stable, united, democratic, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan”. He reiterated that a negotiated political settlement was the only way forward for enduring peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

The prime minister and the Afghan president had wide-ranging talks during which efforts to strengthen bilateral relations and achieve lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan were reviewed.

The PMO said Pakistan and Afghanistan also issued a document titled ‘Shared Vision between Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Support Peace and Stability in Both Countries and the Wider Region’.

The shared vision is aimed at advancing a forward-looking cooperative partnership between the two countries for political, economic and people-to-people exchanges.

The two leaders agreed to constitute committees to pursue security and peace-related matters.

The two leaders also agreed to expedite infrastructure and energy connectivity projects. They also discussed development of new rail-road projects between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the PMO said.