ISLAMABAD - Attaching great importance to a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan, Pakistan has reaffirmed its strong and sincere support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
At a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai after holding an exclusive and delegation level talks here at Prime Minister’s House, Premier Sharif said, “We believe these initiatives offer rich dividends to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region.”
“We fully agreed that this process has to be inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led,” he said and also assured President Karzai that Pakistan would continue to facilitate international community’s efforts for realisation of this noble goal.
He said Pakistan would help reinforce regional efforts to support stabilization in Afghanistan.
“We believe this is imperative for turning the tide of conflict and instability that has engulfed this region for decades,” he said.
Prime Minister Sharif said, “It is also indispensable for the realisation of our positive agenda of peace and development.”
“We wish the Afghan people well in the security and political transitions currently underway,” he said and mentioned that the year 2014 was particularly crucial for Afghanistan and the region.
“It is our sincere hope and desire to see this milestone crossed peacefully,” Sharif said.
He said his government was equally committed to deepening and broadening Pakistan’s bilateral relations with Afghanistan.
“I believe the central focus of this relationship has to be a strong trade and economic partnership that serves the common interest of our peoples.”
Sharif also stressed an ‘early and full implementation’ of the Transit Trade Agreement with Afghanistan and vowed to reinforce energy and communication links with its neighbour through trans-regional initiatives.
President Hamid Karzai talking on the occasion said he had great hopes and expectations from Pakistan.
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.
“Apart from expanding our bonds of friendship, our people and governments would work together to fight the threats of extremism and terrorism,” he added.
“We hope with this on top of our agenda we can move forward in bringing stability and peace to both countries,” he told reporters.
On Monday he acknowledged that the “continued menace of terrorism” was a primary concern for people in Pakistan, where thousands have 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.”
President Karzai while stressing the need for fully exploiting the economic opportunities available for both the countries, said Pakistan as a neighbour could expect good from Afghanistan, just like Afghanistan expected the same from it.
He said his country’s primary concerns were security issues and terrorism that were a threat to its peace and stability.
He said the objective of his visit was to seek Pakistan’s support for his country to achieve peace and stability.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that the two sides, in the meeting of their finance ministers, had agreed on several projects on communications, power and railway.
These included early completion of Torkham-Jalalabad additional carriageway and initiation of other highway projects, besides early implementation of CASA 1000 and development of a joint hydel power project on Kunar River.
The two sides also agreed on establishment of rail links to connect Torkham and Jalalabad as well as Chaman to Spin Bolduk. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Umer Daudzai also signed the ‘Agreed Minutes’ of their meeting, that was witnessed both by Prime Minister Sharif and President Karzai.
The prime minister said, “Constructive engagement between Afghanistan and Pakistan was good for both the countries, good for the region and good for the world.”
Prime Minister Sharif said during the talks the two sides discussed in-depth how could they work together to develop a robust, multi-dimensional relationship, serving the long-term interests of the two nations.
The prime minister stressing the importance of connectivity and regional economic cooperation between the two sides, said, “We believe these initiatives offer rich dividends for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region.”
He said his government had assumed office with the resolve to create a peaceful external environment so that it could focus on Pakistan’s domestic priorities.
He said building stable and cooperative relations with all neighbours was a vital component of that vision. The prime minister said that Afghanistan was not only a close neighbour but also a fraternal nation with which the people of Pakistan were bonded by unbreakable ties of faith, kinship and shared history.
“Our security and future prosperity is linked to that of Afghanistan, in multiple ways,” he added.
“We recognize his great contributions towards the progress and well-being of the Afghan people,” the prime minister said.
President Karzai also expressed appreciation for being invited to visit Pakistan.
Later the prime minister also hosted a luncheon in the honour of visiting Afghan President and his delegation. Karzai and his delegation including cabinet members and senior officials attended the luncheon at the Prime Minister’s House.