Pakistani army chief, Afghan president boost bilateral co-operation

Salaam Times


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (right) and Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa discuss regional security, bilateral relations, peace and stability, and the war on terror during a meeting in Kabul October 1. [Afghanistan Presidential Palace]

KABUL -- Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul Sunday (October 1) in what analysts hail as a step towards constructive bilateral co-operation.

The two sides discussed regional security, bilateral relations, peace and stability, the war on terror, and business and transit relationships, among other key issues, according to a statement released by the president's office after the meeting.

Ghani was quoted as saying that the time has come to take practical steps towards creating an atmosphere of mutual trust.

Pakistan is ready to co-operate in the fight against terrorism that faces both countries and supports the Afghan-led peace process, said the Pakistani delegation, which included Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar.

Ghani, accompanied by his national security advisor and officials from the Ministry of Defence, among others, asked for the establishment of a system that will supervise the commitments promised by each side.

Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal, who attended the meeting, tweeted that the talks were "candid, positive, respectful, constructive and encouraging".

A new chapter in bilateral relations

"Given the current situation, the Pakistani army chief's visit to Kabul is very effective and could bring good results," Latif Nazari, a Kabul-based political analyst, told Salaam Times.

Strong relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are in the interest of both countries and will reduce the challenges on both sides of the border, he said.

"Terrorism is a major threat to global security, especially to Afghanistan and Pakistan; therefore, both countries need to work together," he said.

Co-operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan will help improve security and stability in the region, said Farhad Sediqi, a member of the Afghan parliament.

"Afghanistan and Pakistan share a long border, and the nations have many things in common," he told Salaam Times.

"A good relationship would not only help security but will also improve commerce in the region," he said, adding that "Pakistan can take advantage of Afghanistan's strategic location for its business with Central Asian countries."

Bajwa's visit to Kabul is crucial to ending terrorism in the region, said Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah, a Peshawar-based security analyst.

"Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have suffered immensely from extremism," he told Salaam Times. "Without their co-operation, we are unlikely to end violence and do away with the problems of the population on both sides of the border."

"It is essential that both [sides] join hands against those who are responsible for disrupting peace," he said, adding that he has no doubt the meeting will improve the lives of those held hostage by militants for the past two decades.

"Both countries face the problem of extremism, and the issue requires much greater attention," Shah said.

Peace for Pakistan and Afghanistan

The army chief's visit to Kabul was a significant step towards cordial relations between the militancy-infested neighbours, said Shah Jehan, a Pakistan studies lecturer at the University of Peshawar.

"No other nation can bring peace to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it is their duty to do so," he told Salaam Times. "Now the rulers in both countries have realised that they have paid a heavy price for not talking to one another, which has benefitted militants."

The visit is also key to strengthening border management and denying access to militants, he said.

Peace is in the best interest of the peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan and the two governments should have continual dialogue to end violence, said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shah Farman.

"Unity between Pakistan and Afghanistan will ultimately lead to the end of terrorism," he told Salaam Times. "We need a peaceful environment to pave the way for trade and economic activities."

[Sulaiman from Kabul and Ashfaq Yusufzai from Peshawar contributed to this report.]

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