Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah appreciated Islamabad’s efforts in contributing to the Afghan peace process, saying that he was concluding his three-day trip to Islamabad with a very positive impression and hope in his heart.

Iran PressAsia: On the last day of his visit, Abdullah spoke at a roundtable event organized by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and called on President Arif Alvi at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. Earlier this week, he had met Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Speaking at the CRSS on Wednesday, the Afghan leader praised Islamabad’s recent string of confidence-building measures and specifically mentioned the beefing-up of trade infrastructure along the Pak-Afghan border to boost bilateral trade and the announcement of new visa policy, The Tribune reported.

Abdullah’s visit comes amid ongoing direct peace negotiations in Doha between Kabul and the Taliban government. He said that he had wanted to visit Pakistan for a long time, and was concluding his trip today with a very positive impression and hope in his heart.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan have the opportunity at hand, to begin a new era of bilateral relations, based on mutual respect and shared prosperity,” he said, adding: “Peace and prosperity in both Pakistan and Afghanistan are interdependent.” 

Abdullah said that there was a need for going beyond the rhetoric and the usual blame game because no one could afford to pursue dissolution.

The Afghan leader expressed similar views in an interview with Reuters. He said that he believed there had been a change in recent years in Pakistan’s approach, adding that they still had influence over the Taliban leadership, though the degree was at times exaggerated.

“It was communicated to the Taliban that it was important for them, it’s important to their relations with Pakistan that they sit around the negotiating table,” he said, adding that they had helped break decades of the Taliban refusal to talks. “I do consider this as an important development.”

At the CRSS, Abdullah also dilated on the intra-Afghan negotiations and stressed the need for both sides to “work it out with a broad-based consensus”. He added that there was a sense of urgency than ever to look towards "our region as one".

Pakistan played a key role in the Afghan peace process which resulted in the signing of the US-Taliban accord in Doha in February this year and the subsequent start of the intra-Afghan dialogue in the Qatari capital in September.

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