‘Pak support for Afghan reconciliation process critical’

Islamabad is keen to re-engage Kabul for the Afghan peace process to counter what it perceives as India`s growing influence in Afghanistan.

Islamabad: President Hamid Karzai on Thursday
sought Pakistan`s backing for the reconciliation process in
Afghanistan, saying its support was "critical" for the success
of any Afghan-led peace process in his war-ravaged country.

Karzai, who arrived in Islamabad this morning on a
two-day visit for bilateral talks and to attend a trilateral
summit of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, discussed the
troubled peace process in his country with Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani.

He described "Pakistan`s support as critical to the
success of the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process and
the reconciliation" in Afghanistan, a statement issued by the
Prime Minister`s Office (PMO) said.

Karzai informed the Pakistani side of "several
initiatives" currently underway to promote peace and stability
in Afghanistan.

The two sides agreed on the need to strengthen
cooperation to overcome the "common challenges of terrorism
and extremism" and expressed their resolve to work for the
stability and peace of both countries, the statement said.

Karzai said, "Pakistan and Afghanistan were twin brothers
and, therefore, should cooperate in the same spirit for the
cause of peace and stability in both countries."

Gilani said Pakistan supported any peace process in
Afghanistan which was Afghan-led and Afghan-owned because the
peace, prosperity and independence of Afghanistan were in the
best national interest of Pakistan.

The statement said the talks were held in a cordial

Both sides reviewed current developments in and around
the region related to peace and stability and discussed
bilateral cooperation in trade and commerce, infrastructure
development, regional transit trade and cross-border movement.

Pakistan recently launched a fresh initiative to improve
ties with Afghanistan, which were affected following the
assassination of Afghan High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin
Rabbani last year.

Afghan officials had blamed the assassination on elements
based in Pakistan.

During the meeting with Karzai, Gilani said Pakistan will
continue to extend full cooperation to the Afghan government
in the investigation into Rabbani`s assassination.

Karzai expressed his "deep sense of gratitude" for this

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited Kabul earlier
this month in a bid to revive cooperation in efforts to engage
the Afghan Taliban.

Islamabad is keen to re-engage Kabul for the Afghan peace
process to counter what it perceives as India`s growing
influence in Afghanistan.

This is Karzai`s second visit to Pakistan in eight
months. He last visited Islamabad in June, weeks after US
Special Forces killed Osama bin Laden in a covert operation in
the garrison town of Abbottabad.

Karzai is accompanied by members of his Core Policy
Group, including Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, National
Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta and his Chief of Staff.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to
arrive later in the day for the summit hosted by President
Asif Ali Zardari.

During the trilateral summit, the three Presidents will
have two sessions, one this evening and another tomorrow.
A joint communique will be issued at the conclusion of
the summit, which will also discuss economic issues.
Pakistan`s Minister for States and Frontier Regions,
Engineer Shaukatullah, senior officials and Afghan diplomats
received President Karzai on his arrival at a military

Shortly after his arrival, he held one-on-one and
delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Gilani.

Karzai will also meet Zardari for bilateral talks. The
Pakistani team during the delegation-level talks between
Karzai and Gilani included army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez
Kayani, Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja
Pasha, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Foreign
Minister Khar and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.


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