Prime Minister Imran Khan and President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani during a tete-a-tete at the Presidential Palace

ISLAMABAD, Nov 19 (APP):Pakistan and Afghanistan Thursday agreed on a timeline for actions on joint intelligence services-led work against anti-peace elements, proposals for refugees’ return and further enhancing the regional connectivity.

The time frame for the said actions was agreed in a comprehensive document “A Shared Vision between Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Islamic Republic of Pakistan, to Support Peace and Stability in Both Countries and the Wider Region” issued during the maiden visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Kabul.

The Shared Vision document is aimed at advancing a forward-looking cooperative partnership between the two countries for political, economic and people-to-people exchanges.

The two-part document mentions the agreement reached between the representatives of Pakistan and Afghanistan on September 30, 2020 wherein they agreed fundamentals for a new shared vision to help each other in furtherance of peace and stability in both their countries as well as the wider region.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Ashraf Ghani leading delegation level talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan - Kabul

By December 15, 2020, both the countries would be re-energizing joint intelligence services-led work on analyzing, mapping and cooperating against enemies of peace and those undermining the peace process.

By January 1, 2021, the two countries would formulate a joint proposal for refugees’ return, elevating and intensifying treatment of the issue, to the point for taking a credible and progressive action.

A Shared Vision between Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Islamic Republic of Pakistan, to Support Peace and Stability in Both Countries and the Wider Region

Similarly, both the sides agreed for a joint proposal to enhance regional connectivity by January 1, 2021, in a way which strengthens not only both Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also the wider region.

Confirming commitments made on previous occasions, the representatives of the two countries agreed to take rapid action on the said three main strands of activity, including identifying lead officials to take forward each activity. They stressed the need for urgency in their approach, with progress needed by the beginning of December 2020.

President Ashraf Ghani received PM Imran Khan at ARG Presidential Palace.

They agreed that timely progress to meet the vision would require close coordination, a structured dialogue, and willingness to take difficult and courageous decisions.

Under the document, it was decided that the government leaders of the two countries would visit each other’s capitals alternately to keep the momentum going, which was started with PM Imran Khan’s visit. Likewise, President Ghani would plan a reciprocal visit to Islamabad in the first quarter of 2021.

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Moreover, Afghanistan would share with Pakistan a summary of the key issues being discussed during the Afghanistan Peace Process.

Both the countries agreed to keep the shared vision, its commitments, and previous commitments under regular review, to ensure measurable, clear and irreversible steps towards furthering closer and more productive relations between them.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was given warm welcome at Afghan ARG Presidential Palace in Kabul.

The two sides welcomed the start of Afghanistan Peace Process, and hoped for lasting peace and tranquility in Afghanistan.

They affirmed that the two countries should look towards a future relationship built on trust, to achieve tangible outcomes from that relationship.

They viewed that closer and fraternal relations between the two countries would be beneficial, desirable and achievable, as indeed they had been in the decades before the latest conflict in Afghanistan.

As per the agreed document, the shared vision for Afghanistan and Pakistan should comprise the following core elements, including both the countries enjoying a special relationship, founded on predictability, transparency, mutual and full respect for each other’s sovereignty, and on expanding and furthering their mutual interests through state-to-state mechanisms.

They observed that the mutually agreed cooperation framework under APAPPS provided a comprehensive, multi-sectoral mechanism for optimizing bilateral cooperation.

The document said Afghanistan’s posture of “multi alignment” with other countries, pursuing a number of friendly relationships, presented a real opportunity for the two countries to exploit and conversely presented no threat.

Both the sides believed that peace and stability of two countries was linked with each other.

“Lasting peace implies peace-making which is wholly inclusive, encompasses the whole nation, and respects a democratic constitutional order in which rights of women and men remain inalienable and protected,” the document said.

Both the sides agreed not to allow use of their respective territories for malicious purposes against the other’s territory, and should work together to identify and tackle enemies of peace, irreconcilables and those who undermine the peace process.

President Ashraf Ghani meeting members of Pakistani delegation

Pakistan and Afghanistan vowed to further their links and connections including through people-to- people contacts, business to business, government to government and, of particular note, security to security ties.

It gave a special emphasis on broadening regional connectivity for trade, free movement of people, goods and services, opening of trade and customs posts, and transport and energy infrastructure development, aiming for regional development dividends greater than what each country might expect to achieve alone.

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The two sides believed that expeditious resolution of the refugee situation, like their safe, time-bound and dignified return, would help the two countries address the humanitarian and socio-economic challenges associated with population displacement.

The issues including Afghan peace process, connectivity, refugees’ return and ways to further enhance bilateral ties were also discussed between Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “wide-ranging” talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the Afghan capital.

They reviewed efforts during the past two years to promote shared objectives of strengthening Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

According to a Foreign Office press release, the prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to a peaceful, stable, united, democratic, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan, and reiterated his long-standing view that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan rather a negotiated political settlement was the only way forward for enduring peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

He called on all sides for taking necessary measures for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire to protect Afghan lives.

Underscoring the importance of an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement, the prime minister underlined that Pakistan would respect the decisions made by Afghans in the peace process. He also cautioned against those who could spoil the peace efforts.

The two leaders agreed to constitute committees to pursue security and peace-related matters.

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives at Kabul airport on a day-long vist

The prime minister expressed satisfaction at increasing high-level leadership exchanges imparting a steady momentum to bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.

In this regard, he appreciated that the recent visit of Advisor on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood to Kabul from November 16-18 led to important breakthroughs for commencement of negotiations on Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), progress in revision of APTTA, Customs Assistance Agreement, and understanding to have a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation between two central banks.

The two leaders also agreed to expedite infrastructure and energy connectivity projects, besides discussing development of new rail-road projects between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The prime minister extended an invitation to President Ashraf Ghani to visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience.