The preceding week saw some positive activity in Islamabad and Quetta on the Pakistan and Afghanistan relations. Dr. Nasir Ahmad Andisha, the Deputy Foreign Minister, Afghanistan, visited Pakistan to lay the foundation stone for his country’s new embassy complex next to the Chinese Embassy compound in Islamabad’s Diplomatic Enclave. This coincided with the 98th independence day of Afghanistan. Andisha was the chief guest both at Islamabad and Quetta.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of what would be Afghanistan’s biggest diplomatic mission abroad, Andisha said people and the government of Afghanistan wish well, and that both governments needed to take steps to improve relations. He also spoke of the need for ending the mutual blame-game. Whether the relations are moving ahead or not, both sides are taking steps – confidence-building measures – to improve the relations.
Andisha agreed that there have been ups and downs in Pak-Afghan relation but hoped things would improve through bilateral engagement.
“We believe that the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan are suffering due to terrorism. It also tarnishes the image of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the world so we should make efforts to counter terrorism,” he said.
Dr. Andisha, who earlier in February 2017 also hosted a CRSS-held track 1.5/2 meeting at Kabul Intercontinental Hotel, along with the Governor of Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai and other dignitaries, also cut a cake during the National Day ceremony held at the Afghan Consulate in Quetta on Sunday, marking the 98th Yom-e-Istiqlal of Afghanistan. Dr. Andesha later called on the governor and discussed with him the political situation in the region and matters of mutual interest. The governor hosted a luncheon in the honor of Mr. Andesha, which was also attended by Afghan Consul General in Quetta Waheedullah Mohmand.
According to Ambassador Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, the new embassy compound in Islamabad will be built over a period of two years and the construction work has been contracted by a Chinese firm. With the completion of the new complex, the embassy compound of Afghanistan in Islamabad will become the largest embassy compound of Afghanistan in the world, Dr. Zakhilwal stated.
According to The News, a leading Chinese company will bear the cost of the Afghan embassy complex which is estimated at nearly 17 million US dollars.
Earlier last week, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, heading a delegation on a visit to Afghanistan, had met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Deputy CEO Mohammad Mohaqiq and Deputy Foreign Minister Hikmat Khalil Karzai to discuss a bilateral engagement framework.
CRSS team and its board members hope the opening of the new Afghan Embassy in Islamabad would contribute to peace and normalization of relations between the two neighbors.