Peaceful Afghanistan in Pakistan Interest: Sharif
KABUL (PAN): Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said it was in Pakistan’s interest to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan, revealing an agreement had been reached with President Karzai on a mechanism to allow Afghan peace negotiators to continue talks with Mullah Baradar, the Taliban number two. However, Sharif, who appeared in a joint press conference with President Hamid Karzai after a meeting, did not provide details about the talks with Baradar, who was released by Pakistan in September.
President Karzai said the High Peace Council Chief Salahuddin Rabbani had visited Pakistan a few days ago and discussed the peace process with Pakistani officials. “We discussed how Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States can work together to bring peace to the region.”
To a question about allowing US troops to stay in Afghanistan, Sharif replied Afghanistan was a sovereign state and it had to take a decision on its own. “We stand by Afghanistan and will continue to do so in the future,” he said. Sharif also said he had discussed with President Karzai trade and energy issues.
The topics under discussion included a plan to expand an electricity distribution network, called the CASA-1000, to ship surplus power from the Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan through Afghanistan and into Pakistan, which suffers massive power shortages that threaten its industrial production and economy.
Sharif also said he discussed with the Afghan president the TAPI project – a planned natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan that will pass through Afghanistan to Pakistan and end up in India. He said a peaceful Afghanistan was for the benefit of Pakistan. “I wish to make it clear that Afghanistan is a brotherly neighboring country and a peaceful Afghanistan is for the interest of Pakistan and would benefit Pakistan,” Sharif told the joint press conference with Karzai.
He also pointed out that Pakistan would like to establish best of its relations with Afghanistan by extending all out co-operation in the ongoing efforts for peace and reconciliation in the neighboring conflict-ridden nation. Replying a question, the Pakistani Prime Minister said Islamabad had already set free Mullah Brother to speed up Afghan peace process.
In his short speech, Karzai described terrorism as the common enemy of both the neighboring countries, saying he is hopeful both Afghanistan and Pakistan to overcome the menace of terrorism. During the visit, the leaders exchanged views on enhancing trade and economic cooperation as well as the war on terror.(PAN)