- Islamabad, Kabul agree to strengthen cooperation between institutions
Pakistan and Afghanistan discussed ‘Chinese proposals’ for mutual trust building and mutual cooperation against terrorism besides agreeing to take measures for strengthening institutional cooperation to effectively combat the menace.
The agreement was reached during the bilateral political consultations took place between the Pakistani and the Afghan leadership in Kabul on Tuesday, according to a statement issued here on Wednesday.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Tehmina Janjua visited Kabul for the consultations with her Afghan counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai. During the visit, she also called on Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani, former president Hamid Karzai, National Security Adviser Haneef Atmar, NDS chief Masoom Stanikzai and Hizb-e-Wahdat leader Muhammad Mohaqiq.
“The two sides agreed that terrorism was a common challenge and there was a need to strengthen institutional cooperation between the two countries to effectively combat this menace,” an official handout said. The two sides agreed that lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan was critical for regional stability.
The foreign secretary emphasised that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict and the focus should be on evolving a credible political settlement. An official told Pakistan Today that both the sides discussed the Chinese proposals for mutual trust building, peace and harmony, agreeing that trust building was need of the hour between both the neighbouring countries.
He said that China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has recently shared some useful proposals for the trust building between Pakistan and Afghanistan which came under discussion between the two sides. “Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to establish institutional cooperation and coordination,” he said.
The official said that there was an agreement that rather than using media for messaging across the border, institutions needed to directly engage. He said that Pakistan shared its concerns with Afghanistan that the defunct Tehreek-e-Taliban and Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) have sanctuaries and support from Afghanistan.
“Due to the shared concerns of cross-border terrorism, Pakistan has urged Afghan side to reinforce border management, intelligence cooperation and intelligence sharing. Since we have a long border with Afghanistan, divided families on both the sides of the borders who have ethnic and religious commonalities, there is a need to strengthen border management,” he said.
Both the sides agreed to shun blame game and rather better coordinate mutually for trust building. The official said that the Afghan side shared their concerns that due to the successive attacks by Taliban, terrorist outfits were flourishing and they were making full use of the space created due to the infighting.
“The Afghan leadership believes that Taliban insurgency must end and reconciliation must start to stabilise the region. If Taliban get to table, then we can handle other terrorist groups,” he said. The official said that the Afghan leadership preferred heart-to-heart talks with Pakistan for better engagement and there was no other option left to tackle terrorism for both the countries.
Asked what issues were discussed during the meetings, the official said that the Afghan leadership was concerned over the growing incidents of terrorism. “The Afghan leadership believes that cross-border attacks are a major reason for the instability and they are concerned that the Afghan Taliban get ‘support’ from Pakistani territory. They are also concerned about repatriation of refugees,” he said.
The foreign secretary underlined the need of strengthening border management and early humane repatriation of Afghan refugees. Emphasizing the importance of regional connectivity, she reiterated Pakistan’s desire to expedite transit facilitation and infrastructure connectivity projects between the two countries.