Pak-Afgh to end `blame game`, boost anti-terrorism cooperation

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who made a sudden visit to Afghanistan on Saturday, held talks with President Hamid Karzai to deepen joint strategy against terrorism and boost economic cooperation.

Last Updated: Dec 04, 2010, 20:18 PM IST

Islamabad/Kabul: Pakistan and Afghanistan on Saturday agreed to end the "blame game" in a bid to deepen anti-terrorism cooperation and boost economic ties between the two neighbours who have often accused each other of not doing enough to check militancy.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who made a sudden visit to Afghanistan on Saturday, held talks with President Hamid Karzai to deepen joint strategy against terrorism and boost economic cooperation.

"Now there is an equal realization that both the countries are equally suffering because of terrorism and there should be no blame game," Gilani said at a press conference after his talks with Karzai.

Gilani assured Karzai that Pakistan fully supports the reconciliation process with opposition groups, including the Taliban to bring them into political mainstream.

"Pakistan and Afghanistan realize that instability in one country is not in the benefit of the other and their
mutual interest is in pursuing a new path leaving behind the past," Gilani was quoted as saying by the Pakistani state-run APP news agency.

They also agreed to improve institutional arrangements to increase coordination between security forces and improve intelligence sharing.

Gilani, whose two-day visit was announced only last evening, underlined the need for deeper cooperation to stop the production and trafficking of narcotics, which were being used by terrorist networks to fund their activities.

The two leaders exchanged views on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Gilani and Karzai held in-depth discussions to boost cooperation in war against terrorism and extremism and promoting collaboration on economy, trade and investment, building of energy corridors and improving road and rail links.

They agreed to strengthen their existing "strategic partnership" for creating economic growth and job
opportunities by boosting investments in trans-regional projects, the report said.

They underlined the need to boost steps to implement planned mega regional projects of gas and electricity. They said the dream of shared prosperity could only be achieved through sustained joint efforts.

Earlier, a formal welcome ceremony was held at the Presidential Palace for the Prime Minister.

Gilani is accompanied by Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and Minister for Interior A Rehman Malik, the report said.

Ahead of Gilani`s visit to Kabul, Pakistani ambassador in Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq said Islamabad`s relations with Kabul have vastly improved over the last five years.

He said as many as 70,000 Pakistanis were working in Afghanistan and a large number of Afghans educated in Pakistan were now holding important political and administrative offices in government and corporate sector of their country.

He said in contrast only 4,000 Indians are working and most of them performing security duties.

Afghan businessmen are looking for more Pakistani engineers, accountants and other professionals for
infrastructure and development projects, he was quoted as saying.

He said peace and reconciliation process is the internal matter of Afghanistan and Pakistan welcomes it and will continue to play its role to promote regional security and stability.

PTI