ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is set to visit Kabul on Saturday (today) to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior officials during his maiden trip to any country after assuming his new responsibilities.
Speaking to Dawn on Friday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Mr Qureshi would meet President Ghani and other senior Afghan officials during his daylong visit to Kabul on Saturday. “The main purpose of the foreign minister’s visit is to improve coordination on security-related issues between the two countries,” he added.
To underscore the importance of the trip, he said it would be Mr Qureshi’s first visit to Kabul (after becoming foreign minister) and it showed that Afghanistan was on top of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Civil-military leadership discusses foreign policy, security challenges
Media reports suggest that Mr Qureshi would extend an invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan to President Ghani to visit Pakistan.
On Sept 3, Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani had phoned Mr Qureshi to greet him on his appointment as foreign minister. He also extended him an invitation to visit Kabul.
Marked improvement in relations has been observed since Islamabad and Kabul agreed to operationalise the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) — the new bilateral ties framework that, according to the Foreign Office, provided the most comprehensive institutional mechanism to discuss all mutual issues.
During their phone conversation earlier this month, both Mr Qureshi and his Afghan counterpart Rabbani agreed that the next round of APAPPS would soon be held in Islamabad.
Also on Friday, the country’s civil and military leadership sat together at PM Office to discuss foreign policy challenges.
Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence director general Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, FM Qureshi, the foreign secretary and other senior officials were present at a high-level meeting chaired by PM Khan.
“Bilateral relations with certain friendly countries and issues relating to security came under discussion during the meeting,” said a brief statement issued after the meeting.
However, Information Minister Chaudhry told Dawn that the meeting discussed issues related to foreign policy and security. “The participants also discussed the strategy for the future visits of some foreign dignitaries,” he added.
Moreover, he said, the army chief also briefed the meeting about his last visit to Kabul.
Gen Bajwa had travelled to Kabul in June and held a one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Ghani.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2018