PM Abbasi arrives in Kabul to hold talks with Afghan leadership

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi received guard of honor at the Afghan presidential palace on Friday as he arrived in Kabul on official visit on Afghan leadership invitation.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, , Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Khyber Pakhtunkwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua among other officials, are accompanying the premier on his day-long visit to the Afghan capital.

The Pakistan delegation is likely to discuss the political and security situation of Afghanistan with the country’s top leadership.

The visit follows an invitation by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and comes in the backdrop of Pakistan’s support to Ghani’s peace offering to the Taliban and wish of strengthening bilateral engagement with Islamabad.

Premier Abbasi and delegation will hold consultations with Ghani and Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah on matters of mutual interest, including strengthening of bilateral political, economic, security and counter-terrorism cooperation, repatriation of Afghan refugees, combating drug production and narco-trade, Afghan peace process and regional political and security situation, said a statement by the Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday night.

The statement further read that Islamabad also aspires to deepen people-to-people contacts and in this regard, the prime minister would discuss with the Afghan leadership ways to facilitate travel between the two countries, assist education and medical treatment of Afghan nationals in Pakistan and expand trade and transit facilitation between the two countries.

Abbasi had visited Afghanistan in February this year to inaugurate the TAPI gas pipeline project. The two sides are also engaged in undertaking major bilateral rail-road connectivity projects.

The promising atmosphere surrounding the trip was marred Thursday night after Pakistan urged Kabul to refrain from ‘blame games’ following allegations by Afghanistan that the Pakistan Air Force violated Afghan airspace.

FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said in a series of tweets clarified that Pakistani security forces are undertaking counter-terrorism operations in Bajaur Agency, directed against terrorist groups who continue to attack Pakistan from their sanctuaries based on Afghan soil.

Earlier this week, a high-level Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua met President Ghani and other Afghan officials to discuss various important issues.

The delegation comprised senior civil and military officials, including Director General Military Operations Maj Gen Shamshad Mirza. It arrived in Afghanistan to hold talks on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).