Top-level civilian and military officials from Islamabad and Kabul on Saturday agreed to some points of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) and decided to continue discussions to reach an agreement on the entire blueprint for bilateral engagement.
“The meeting was held in a cordial environment and both delegations made some progress on the APAPPS,” a joint statement issued after the inaugural meeting of the working groups established under the action plan said.
The meeting comes in the backdrop of a series of deadly attacks that rattled Kabul, after which a high-level delegation from Afghanistan comprising the interior minister and spy chief had visited Islamabad this week with a ‘personal message’ from President Ashraf Ghani. The delegation held talks with Pakistani leadership on security cooperation amid the highly volatile security situation in their country.
However, the joint working group delegation’s first trip had reportedly been scheduled long before recent developments in Pak-Afghan ties.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani delegation at the talks while Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai was leading the Afghan side. The APAPPS is a joint action plan for cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism and reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation, refugees repatriation and joint economic development.
During Saturday’s meeting, Pakistan offered a joint investigation into the terrorist attacks in Kabul and urged the Afghan government to take action against anti-Pakistan terrorists stationed in Afghanistan.
The foreign secretary during the meeting reiterated that instead of blame game both sides should engage in concrete cooperation. Pakistan also emphasised the need for strengthening border management on the Afghan side.
“There are still important areas to be discussed and agreed upon, and both sides remain committed to continue discussions to reach an agreement on the APAPPS,” the press release said.
The next meeting of the delegations will take place on February 9 and 10 in Islamabad.
There has been little change in Kabul’s acrimonious tone towards Pakistan despite its Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak and National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Masoom Stanekzai’s visit to Islamabad during which both sides agreed to cooperate in the investigation of the latest attacks in Kabul, a couple of which were claimed by the Taliban. About 140 people were killed in the three attacks.
In a televised speech on Friday, President Ghani said: “Pakistan is the headquarters of the Taliban. The time has come for them now to take action.”
The Foreign Office, however, rejected the allegations, saying Pakistan has been taking action against all terrorist groups in its territory.