PM Abbasi receives guard of honor upon arrival in Kabul

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrived in Kabul on Friday for a day-long visit to Afghanistan.

A contingent of Afghan army presented the guard of honour to the prime minister upon his arrival.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has invited PM Abbasi on a state visit to discuss economic, security and counter-terrorism cooperation.

The prime minister is expected to discuss the Afghan peace process and the regional political and security situation. Bilateral trade, return of Afghan refugees, combating drug production and clamping down on the narcotics trade will also come under discussion during the meeting.

Besides the Afghan president, the prime minister will also meet Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

[pullquote]Rejection of Kabul’s allegations[/pullquote]

The visit, aimed at reducing tensions between the two neighbouring countries and further strengthening the Afghan peace process, comes in the backdrop of allegations by authorities in Afghanistan.

A day before the PM’s visit, Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal took to Twitter on Thursday to reject Afghan allegations of airstrikes by Pakistan.

“Pakistani security forces are undertaking counter-terrorism operations in Bajaur Agency directed against terrorist groups who continue to attack Pakistan from their sanctuaries based on Afghan soil that have resulted in loss of lives and injuries on the Pakistani side,” Dr Faisal tweeted after Kabul alleged that Pakistan had conducted air strikes in the Afghan province of Kunar causing “huge financial damage”.

He added that in a meeting of the director generals military operations of the two countries held in Rawalpindi on Thursday, Pakistan had shared details of the operations with the Afghan side indicating that these operations were on the Pakistani side of the border.

[pullquote]Peace process[/pullquote]

Last month, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had also extended support to Kabul’s proposed political process seeking to recognise the Taliban as a legitimate political group, and said Pakistan is ready for one-on-one talks with the Afghan Taliban.

President Ghani had proposed a ceasefire and release of prisoners as part of a range of options, including new elections involving the militants and a constitutional review as part of a pact with the Taliban to end a conflict that last year alone killed or wounded more than 10,000 Afghan civilians.

In return for Ghani’s offer, the Taliban would have to recognise the Afghan government and respect the rule of law, including the rights of women, one of the priorities for Afghanistan’s international partners.

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