Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is planning to visit Afghanistan next week; a visit that is being worked out by diplomats on both sides. Afghan envoy Omar Zakhilwal also held an important meeting with PM Abbasi on Wednesday in this regard. It was reported by The News today that Zakhiwal discussed various issues with PM Abbasi that could come under discussion during the latter’s Kabul visit.
The Pakistani PM also issued a strong worded condemnation of the latest deadly bombing in Kabul, expressing his country’s solidarity with Afghanistan. PM Abbasi also expressed his country’s desire to strengthen cooperation with Afghanistan in areas of bilateral and transit trade along with economic cooperation. Abbasi also reiterated Pakistan’s support to efforts for Afghan reconciliation under the current administration.
Today, I received Pakistani NSA at Dilkusha palace. As a follow up to #Kabul process, I have extended an official invitation to Pakistani Prime Minister to visit #Afghanistan. This is to initiate state to state comprehensive dialogue. pic.twitter.com/3LuN3tJFq3
— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) March 17, 2018
In what was seen as ‘progress’ on the bilateral front between Afghanistan and Pakistan during Pakistani NSA’s recent visit to Kabul, Islamabad had conveyed an important message that ‘an isolated Pakistan would be of no use to Afghanistan’s peace process’.
Lt. Gen. Retd. Nasir Khan Janujua, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser, called upon both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah during his all-important visit to neighbouring Afghanistan. During his visit, Janjua also held “elaborate and successful meetings” with his counterpart Haneef Atmar, Minister of Defense and NDS Chief.
Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah met Nasser Janjua National Security Advisor of #Pakistan. They discussed inter-state dialogues for improvement of relations between the 2 countries, support for the Afghan Peace Process and the timely & new peace offer that Taliban should utilize. pic.twitter.com/HYwLScQkan
— Dr. Abdullah (@afgexecutive) March 18, 2018
“Isolated, blamed and coerced Pakistan is of lesser use to Afghanistan,” Janujua told the Afghan leadership on Saturday during his day-long visit to the country. It is believed that Janjua was referring to Washington’s hard-line stance against Pakistan under President Trump, who has asked Islamabad to ‘do-more’ against alleged terrorist sanctuaries in the tribal areas.
These US demands were renewed during Pakistani PM Abbasi’s visit to the US, where he met Vice President Mike Pence in an ‘unscheduled’ meeting in Washington on Friday.
“The Vice President stated that US efforts to eliminate terrorist groups who threaten US security and the stability of the region will continue and noted that Pakistan could and should work closer with the US,” the White House statement said after Pence-Abbasi meeting.
The Afghan President has also recently changed his position both on peace talks with the Taliban as well as Pakistan. Where he called for unconditional talks with the militant group last month, Ghani, on Saturday, also invited Pakistani PM for a detailed and comprehensive one-on-one meeting to discuss and initiate a comprehensive dialogue.
Ghani’s invitation was part of his pledge to resume Kabul’s high-level engagements with Islamabad to repair bilateral security, political and economic cooperation. He made this pledge in a speech during the Kabul Process meeting of more than 25 countries and international organisations earlier this year.
With security situation getting worse by the day in Afghanistan, positive gestures towards Pakistan coming out of Kabul would only help improve cooperation against terror and militancy in the region.