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Kabul, Islamabad agree to coordinate issues of mutual concern

Pak-AfghanKABUL: Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday agreed to establish ‘an effective mechanism for consultation and coordination of issues of mutual concern and interest.’

 “This will be proposed for the consideration of the two countries’ leadership, who will meet on the sidelines of the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The senior level talks between Afghan and Pakistani officials took place in Islamabad after forces of the two countries clashed at Torkham border over the construction of gate by the Pakistanis.

Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai led an inter-ministerial delegation –consisting of senior civilian and military officials— to visit Islamabad at the invitation of Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to Pakistan’s Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs.

Karzai, accompanied by Dr. Omar Zakhiwal, special envoy of the Afghan president and Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, met his Pakistani counterpart Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary in an amicable and friendly atmosphere with a constructive agenda to address both sides’ concerns with regards to the recent tensions at the Torkham crossing, the statement said.

Karzai raised with Chaudhary the various violations by Pakistan, including their building of installations and check posts inside the Afghan territory in Angoor Ada, Ghulam Khan  and Khoja Kheder Mountain. Moreover, he strongly protested against Pakistan’s ongoing unprovoked artillery-shelling of Afghan villages.

To prevent such incidents from happening again, both sides agreed to establish an effective mechanism for consultation and coordination of issues of mutual concern and interest.

In the meeting, respect for the mutual sovereignty and commitment to the principles of non-interference, non-aggression, and good neighborly relations were stressed.

They acknowledged that the stability, security, and prosperity of Afghanistan depend on those of Pakistan and vice versa.

Moreover, the Afghan side noted that in the fight against terrorism no distinction be made between good and bad terrorists and that Afghanistan and Pakistan should cooperate to defeat terrorism and end regional support for extremism.

In Islamabad, Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said the Afghan delegation was warmly received and talks started in a cordial atmosphere.

Both sides are to review all aspects of border issues and will evolve a mechanism for better border management. “Pakistan… looks forward to meaningful deliberations through a constructive engagement between the two sides with a view to promoting bilateral relations as well as peace and stability of our two countries, and the region,” the FO said.

Torkham is one of the busiest of the eight established crossing points on the 2,500-kilometre-long porous border between the two countries, which is used by some 25,000 travellers every day.

A diplomatic push to end the Pak-Afghan row over the construction of the border gate bore fruit on Saturday when Pakistan reopened the Torkham border crossing for traffic a week after skirmishes forced the closure. -Pajhwok


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