Ashraf Ghani gestures to Imran Khan during a guard of honour ahead of their joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Thursday. AFP
Gulf Today Report
During his maiden visit to Kabul on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan will do everything possible to help reduce violence in Afghanistan and establish durable peace.
Addressing a joint press conference alongside Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, the premier said that the two countries have historical links.
"The idea of visiting at a time when violence is increasing [in Afghanistan] is to assure you, President Ghani, that the people and the government of Pakistan have only one concern; peace in Afghanistan."
"I am pleased that you have invited me to this historic city of Kabul," the PM said, thanking President Ghani. "We have historical links with your country."
President Ashraf Ghani also stressed that the people of Afghanistan want nothing but peace.
"A comprehensive political settlement for enduring peace within the framework of our values and constitution in the Islamic Republic [of Afghanistan] is the way to the future," he said. "All of us need to understand that resorting to violence is not the answer." President Ghani also said that he would be honoured to visit the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
"The Afghan people have suffered for four decades," Imran said. The premier also noted that despite the role Pakistan has played in getting the Taliban to speak with Americans and with regards to intra-Afghan dialogue, the level of violence has risen in Afghanistan.
"We notice with concern that the level of violence despite the talks in Qatar ... is rising," Imran told reporters outside the presidential palace after meeting with Ashraf Ghani.
"Pakistan will do everything, whatever is possible, we will do to help reduce this violence and in fact move towards a ceasefire."
Imran said it was Pakistan that first persuaded the Taliban to talk to Washington in 2018 for negotiations that eventually yielded a withdrawal deal for all foreign forces.
He also credited Islamabad's efforts in helping start the peace talks in Doha.
"We the people and government of Pakistan have only one concern, and that concern is ... that we want peace (in Afghanistan)," Imran said.
Earlier on Thursday, the premier arrived in Kabul to meet with the Afghan president at a time when peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives have stalled and incidents of violence are rising.
This is the premier's first visit to Afghanistan since assuming office over two years ago. It is the highest-profile visit by a Pakistani official to Kabul since peace talks began between the Taliban and the Afghan government in the Qatari capital of Doha.
The prime minister is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, Adviser on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Representative for Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq and other senior officials.
Ashraf Ghani and Imran Khan inspect the honour guard at the Presidential Palace. AP
The prime minister was received by the Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar and Afghan President's Special Representative for Pakistan Mohammad Umer Daudzai on his arrival in the country's capital.
Later Imran was presented a guard of honour at the presidential palace.
Observers believe that the nearly 18-year conflict will be the major focus of talks between Khan and President Donald Trump when they meet on July 22.
All US troops in Afghanistan should be “home by Christmas,” President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, just hours after his national security adviser said Washington would reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early next year.
President Joe Biden’s newly appointed national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, spoke with his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib and “made clear the United States’ intention to review” the deal, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said.
A phone call was held between His Highness Sheikh Mohamed and Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistani Prime Minister, during which they reviewed UAE-Pakistan relations and agreed to schedule another visit as soon as possible.
The blast took place at the mosque where a large number of people had gathered for prayer, police official Sikandar Khan said. "A portion of the building had collapsed and several people are believed to be under it," Khan added.
“The deliberate shelling of active civilian medical facilities and the targeted killing of civilians are grave war crimes of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters,” the Russian foreign ministry said.