Pakistan reaffirms support for Afghan development

Kabul/Islamabad, Sep 4 (IANS) Pakistan reaffirmed on Friday its firm support for regional and international processes for reconstruction, development and progress of Afghanistan, media reported.

“Pakistan is working on a number of cross-border and trans-regional connectivity projects, including infrastructure, energy and promotion of trade and investment,” Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistan prime minister’s top aide, remarked during a meeting of the sixth Regional Economic Conference on Afghanistan (RECA) in Kabul, Saama TV reported.

Aziz lauded Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for sharing his vision to make Afghanistan a development- and regionally-integrated country. “Pakistan fully supports this forward-looking and progressive vision, and the plans for regional connectivity.”

The top Pakistan diplomat apprised the participants of the meeting about the progress of various projects between the two countries. “We have expedited work on rail connectivity projects, including Peshawar-Jalalabad and Chaman-Spinboldak Rail Links between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Pakistan is working on the feasibility study for Peshawar-Kabul Motorway, saying the country is committed to extending the road network to Central Asia, he added.

He said Pakistan was now focusing on simplification of practices, business-friendly visa regimes, regulations, legislations and agreements in the areas of trade and transit which facilitate the flow of goods and services, greater public-private partnership and enhanced people-to-people contacts. Pakistan has also decided to accede to the TIR Convention. This will facilitate promotion of trade between the two countries and the region.

“We are committed to enhancing our assistance for training of Afghan civil servants including diplomats and police. We would also impart training to doctors, para-medical staff, teachers, postal, banking, railways, customs and civil aviation officials,” said Aziz.

Earlier, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said Islamabad was committed to promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan for the best interest of the two neighbouring countries as well as the region.

Khalilullah said it was up to Afghanistan to take the next step in this regard, and Pakistan remained ready to facilitate.

Pakistan hosted the first ever face-to-face talks between the representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban near Islamabad on July 7.

The second round, scheduled to take place on July 31, was, however, postponed following the death of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he will no more ask Pakistan to assist in the talks with the Taliban and his government will itself pursue the negotiations.

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