- Karzai seeks Pakistan’s help in peace talks with Taliban
- Nawaz says Pakistan attaches great importance to peaceful, united and stable Afghanistan
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have agreed to further strengthen their relations in spheres of security, trade, economy and communication, as Karzai called upon Pakistan to help achieve peace with the Taliban.
The understanding came during a meeting between Nawaz and Karzai in Islamabad on Monday.
Addressing a joint stake out along with the Afghan president later, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. He said the two sides had agreed that this process should be inclusive and Afghan-owned and Afghan led.
He said Pakistan attached great importance to a peaceful, united and stable Afghanistan. Nawaz assured the Afghan president that Pakistan would continue extending all possible assistance and facilitation to the international community for realisation of this goal.
“I assured President Karzai that Pakistan will continue to extend all possible facilitation to the international community’s efforts for the realisation of this noble goal,” he said.
“I also reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong and sincere support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.”
The prime minister said Afghanistan was not only a close neighbour and a fraternal country but the two countries were also linked by common faith and culture. “Our security and future prosperity is linked to Afghanistan in multiple ways.”
Nawaz pointed out that the year 2014 was particularly crucial for Afghanistan and this region. “It is our sincere hope and desire that this milestone is achieved peacefully.”
He said the Pakistani government was equally committed to deepening bilateral relations with Afghanistan.
Connectivity and strong economic cooperation should be the central focus of the relationship, the PM added.
“Both sides have agreed to work closely to enhance cooperation in spheres of trade, energy and communication through trans regional initiatives. Some of the agreed projects include early completion of Torkham-Jalalabad additional carriageway, early implementation of CASA 1000 and rail projects including the establishment of Torkham-Jalalabad and Chaman-Spinboldak.”
The two sides also agreed to fully implement the Pakistan-Afghanistan transit trade agreement. Constructive engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan is good for the region and for the world, Nawaz said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked Pakistan to help arrange peace talks between his government and Taliban insurgents and called for a joint campaign against extremism in both countries.
He said the two countries discussed the “joint fight against extremism and reconciliation and peace-building in Afghanistan with the expectation that the government of Pakistan will facilitate and provide help to the peace process”.
“We hope that with this on top of our agenda we can move forward in bringing stability and peace to both countries,” Karzai said.
He expressed confidence that Pakistan would facilitate the Afghan peace process and provide platform for reconciliation between Afghan High Peace Council and the Taliban movement. This, he said, would help bring stability in both countries.
Karzai also said Pakistan was a friend and a neighbour.
“Pakistan can expect good from Afghanistan just as Afghanistan expects good from Pakistan. Afghanistan is willing to engage with Pakistan in other areas but the primary concern remains lack of security for our citizens and continued menace of terrorism attacking both our peoples, soldiers and security forces.”
Karzai said both countries needed to pursue the common campaign against terrorism for the common cause of peace and stability.
“With security and the fight against terrorism as the top agenda, both countries can move forward towards peace and stability,” Karzai said.
He acknowledged that the “continued menace of terrorism” was a primary concern for the people in Pakistan, where thousands had been killed in the last decade, as well as in Afghanistan.
“It is this area that needs to have primary and focused attention by both governments,” Karzai said.
“It is with hope on this that I have come to Pakistan to advance the course of action together but also by having a common campaign against extremism, (to) make sure that the two countries are safer and prosperous towards a secure future.”
The Afghan government peace negotiators accompanying Karzai called for the release of the most senior Taliban figure detained in Pakistan, former deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar.
But no mention was made about prisoner releases in the short statements made by Nawaz Sharif and Hamid Karzai. Pakistan released 26 Taliban prisoners late last year, including the militants’ former justice minister Nooruddin Turabi.
Afghan officials believe the releases can encourage former detainees to talk to the Kabul government, although observers say there is little evidence those hopes have been realised. Several prisoners are also understood to have returned to the battlefield.
The Afghan delegation included Foreign Minister Dr Zalmai Rassoul, National Security Advisor Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Minister for Finance Hazrat Omer Zakhilwall, Minister for Commerce Dr Anwarul Haq Ahady, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ershad Ahmadi, Transition Coordination Commission Chairman Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, High Peace Council Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani and Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Muhammad Umer Daudzai.
The two countries also signed an agreement in Islamabad for promotion of volume of trade and strengthening of economic relations. The finance ministers of the two countries signed the documents.
The signing ceremony was also witnessed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.