Any Afghan-Pak talks should have lasting positive outcomes

Recently media reported that Afghanistan and Pakistan are expected to hold a wide-scale talks, including peace process early next week. The meeting according to Daily Times, a popular Pakistani paper, would be held in Afghanistan capital, Kabul.

Cooperation in various fields, including security and trade and transit would also be reviewed during the bilateral talks. “Both countries have agreed to hold the meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), a bilateral mechanism of dialogue, on Aug. 31 after a break of more than a year,” an official told Daily Times.

The meeting was expected to be held between the neighboring countries, as soon as the last talks was held in June 2019 in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, but COVID-19 pandemic delayed the physical meeting, the paper said. Five working groups focused on ‘politico-diplomatic, military to military coordination, intelligence cooperation, economic and refugee issues,’ to be considered as the best forum to address concerns of the two neighbors and to enhance cooperation in different fields.

Increase in bilateral trade and removing hurdles in transit trade and discussing amendments in the two countries Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) would also make part of the agenda, as both sides’ high level meeting, expected to be held immediately after the APAPPS. The official said Pakistan and Afghanistan will also hold high level talks immediately after the APAPPS meeting to explore ways for increasing bilateral trade and removing hurdles in transit trade. Both sides will also discuss amendments in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) that was signed in 1965 and revised in 2010.

Any talks; positive and fruitful are welcomed by the government and people of Afghanistan. On peace process, which is sluggishly going on with the government armed oppositions, particularly the Taliban, the government and the people of Afghanistan want a lasting end to violence.

Pakistan as one of the key stakeholders can use its influence on the anti-government militants to convince them in joining a direct talk with the representatives of the country’s legal system. On trade and transit; Pakistan has time and again vowed to help Afghanistan and Pakistan trade and transit and facilitate them and remove any hurdles coming across, while, on the other, hundreds of Afghan goods laden tracks are forced to stop inside its soil and asking them for taxes.

Prices go on and thousands of Afghan patients, who are leaving for Pakistan for treatment, are stopped at the border gate waiting for closure. Recently, Pakistan has reopened all its major border points with the country to facilitate economic issues including transit and bilateral trade and the Afghan traders have been allowed to use Guadar port in Baluchistan state of the neighboring country, for facilitating both exports and imports.

The aforesaid measures taken by Pakistan are highly welcomed and praised by the Afghans hoping the steps taken in favor of both nations could last long and more effective measures to be taken on lasting peace and stability in the war-affected country.

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