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Commentary; New era in Kabul, Islamabad ties unfolding

KABUL: The two neighboring countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan have apparently seemed to have working on a common ground to agree on turning over a leaf in their ties marred by mutual mistrust and acrimony.  Both the countries are enjoying a rock-strewn relationship. Afghanistan has often complained over the existence of terrorist groups and hideouts in the soil of Pakistan. Crossing point clashes were also repeated several times. Both sides suffered casualties. Most clashes occurred in Torkham and Spin Boldak crossing points. Crossing point shelling was no exception. Dozens of innocent of Afghan were killed in Pakistan forces shelling and reciprocally, the Afghan security forces fired rockets that definitely had casualties. Situations between these two countries were never normal. But after the start of intra-Afghan talks in Doha of Qatar, Pakistan seems to have changed course, with its officials now talking about a new era in relation with Afghanistan. They have openly supported the Afghan peace process. 

Chief of High Council for National Reconciliation, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Speaker of Parliament Mir Rahman Rahmani, and other Afghan officials have visited Pakistan recently, meeting high-level officials including the Prime Minister Imran Khan. They discussed issues of mutual interest with assurance from the Pakistan side to sincerely help Afghanistan in its quest for peace.

To further strengthen the relations, Pakistan Primer Imran Khan will visit Kabul on Thursday. He will meet with President Ghani and other high-ranking officials. Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on the invitation of President Ashraf Ghani, Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Kabul. This his first visit to Afghanistan since assuming office.

“The Prime Minister’s program includes tete-e-tete with President Ashraf Ghani, delegation-level talks, and joint press stake-out. The focus would be on further deepening the fraternal bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Afghan peace process, and regional economic development and connectivity,” the statement added. Pakistan Khan’s visit is part of regular high-level exchanges between Pakistan and Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani had last visited Pakistan in June 2019. Earlier, the two leaders had a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 14th OIC Summit in Makkah in May 2019. The Prime Minister also had a telephonic conversation with President Ashraf Ghani in September 2020.

“The people of Pakistan and Afghanistan are linked through immutable bonds of history, faith, culture, kinship, values and traditions. The Prime Minister’s visit will help foster a stronger and multi-faceted relationship between the two brotherly countries,” the statement added.

It would be definitely paving the way for rebuilding trust and a great opportunity to iron out differences. The best thing Pakistan can do is to honestly support the Afghan peace process and also avoid giving safe hideouts to the militant groups. Pakistan has to understand that peace in Kabul is peace in Islamabad and in the region as whole. Afghanistan’s geopolitics location is immensely important in Asia and it could play a very important role in connecting Asian and Central Asian countries, particularly Pakistan. We can also connect Pakistan with China through the shortest route, and this will benefit Afghanistan as well. The visit of Pakistan Primer Khan to Kabul is a great chance for positive change. Pakistan’s Khan must have the message of sincere cooperation in different fields, particularly in the aspect of Afghan peace process and improving bilateral ties.

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