Pakistan’s Army Chief Concludes ‘Constructive’ Afghan Talks

Pakistan’s military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, held “candid and “constructive” talks with Afghan leaders on bilateral relations and ways to enhance mutual cooperation to fight terrorism.

Accompanied by the chief of Pakistani spy agency, ISI, the general met Sunday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace in Kabul. The Afghan defense minister and the national security advisor among others assisted Ghani in the discussions, officials said.

“Both sides discussed regional security, bilateral relations, fight against terrorism, trade and transit,” according to a brief statement issued by Ghani’s office after the meeting.

It quoted the Afghan president as saying the time has come to take practical steps toward creating an atmosphere of mutual trust. The statement added Pakistan assured of its readiness to cooperate in tackling the threat of terrorism facing both countries and supported Afghan-led efforts to promote peace.

The meeting was “candid, positive, respectful, constructive and encouraging in a long time,” said Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal, who also attended the talks.

Bilateral ties have been marred by mistrust and suspicion, with both Islamabad and Kabul routinely blaming each other for backing fugitive anti-state militants to plot terrorist attacks against the other.

During the one day visit, General Bajwa had been expected to reiterate offers of training for Afghan soldiers and police personnel in Pakistani institutions and emphasize the need for the two countries to resolve differences by relying on bilateral mechanisms and dialogue, according to officials in Islamabad.

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The U.S.-backed Afghan government insists that sanctuaries on Pakistani soil have enabled the Taliban to sustain and expand insurgent operations in Afghanistan during the past 16 years. Recent assessments have put the Islamist insurgents in control of more than 40 percent of Afghan…

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