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Pak, Afghanistan have commenced historic phase in ties: Sharif

Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said that with the change of leadership in Afghanistan the two countries have commenced a historic new phase in bilateral ties by agreeing to overcome the past and build a forward-looking relationship based on mutual trust.

Sharif made the remarks while talking to Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, who called on him at the Prime Minister’s House this morning.

The Pakistan Prime Minister said that building stable and cooperative relations with all countries of the region was part of his vision of a peaceful neighbourhood.

With the change in leadership in Afghanistan, the two countries have commenced a historic new phase in bilateral relations, agreeing to overcome the past and building a forward-looking relationship based on mutual trust, Sharif was quoted as saying by an official statement.

Recently, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had expressed alarm over his successor Ashraf Ghani’s “unthinkable concessions” to Pakistan. He had warned that Afghanistan was in danger of sliding under “Pakistan’s thumb”.

During his meeting with Balkhi, Sharif said, “Our focus is on enhanced political engagement, security and counter- terrorism cooperation, trade and economic partnership, and regional cooperation.”

He said terrorism is a common enemy and requires common endeavours to defeat it. “We have a commitment not to allow our territories to be used against each other. Pakistan is in favour of an Afghan- owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process,” Sharif asserted.

Talking about Afghan refugees, the Prime Minister said Pakistan is fully committed to the internationally endorsed solution strategy for Afghan refugees.

During the meeting with Balkhi, Sharif also recalled that in the London Conference on Afghanistan held in December last year, he had urged the international community to support Afghanistan to bring back its refugees living abroad, by helping to create conducive conditions for their sustainable reintegration in their homeland.

He said that Pakistan respects the principle of voluntary return and feels encouraged that the Afghan government is creating pull factors to incentivise the return of refugees.

Sharif indicated his desire to visit Kabul himself to further bolster bilateral ties.

Balkhi thanked the Pakistan government for showing deep concern for Afghanis affected by the avalanches in the country and for sending two planeloads of relief goods.

He also conveyed best wishes of President Ashraf Ghani to the Prime Minister.

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