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Pakistan army chief visits Kabul with peace on agenda

A deep distrust and a saga of accusations and counteraccusations have long dealt a devastating blow to Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral ties. Bajwa’s visit is either outcome of US pressure or just a mere pretense

AT News

KABUL: Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa in an unannounced visit to Kabul on Tuesday met President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, amid an intense effort to get the Taliban on the negotiating table with Kabul government.

Accompanied by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief and Pakistan’s special envoy on Afghanistan, Bajwa’s impromptu visit to Kabul is perceived to be in connection with the ongoing peace efforts to end the US war and bring peace to Afghanistan.

Bajwa in meeting with President Ghani said that Pakistan supported an independent, democratic and republic Afghanistan, said the Presidential Palace in a statement early on Tuesday.

Pakistani army chief described peace in Afghanistan to the benefit to the region and the world, pledging Pakistan’s cooperation in this regard. He was hopeful intra-Afghan negotiations will start at the earliest and the parties to the conflict take constructive steps in ending the war and achieving peace.

Meeting Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation, General Bajwa expressed Pakistan’s support for Afghan peace efforts and also the earliest start of intra-Afghan talks.

“We held productive talks and stressed on the unique opportunity to further the cause of peace in Afghanistan and stability in the region as the High Council and Afghan leaders take necessary steps toward intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Dr. Abdullah in a tweet.

Dr. Abdullah said he reminded Pakistan’s army chief of Kabul’s readiness to engage with the Taliban on common issues “to end the conflict and live together in peace”. He also reiterated on Pakistan’s constructive role in Afghan peace.

This is the first time a high-ranking Pakistani official visits Kabul in months, ahead of the intra-Afghan talks. Earlier, the US President Trump’s envoy for Afghan peace held talks with General Bajwa and ISI chief and senior officials in Pakistan on Sunday to discuss the next steps for advancing the peace process.

Khalilzad also met with Taliban delegation in Qatar on Monday, which is considered as another progress in the peace process with Taliban. Some Afghan officials have floated the idea that the intra-Afghan dialogue is expected to be held by the end of this month and highly likely virtually and online as some peace negotiators have become infected with coronavirus.

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