November 13, 2014
ISLAMABAD Afghan president Ashraf Ghani today arrived in Pakistan for his first visit to the country to improve bilateral ties crucial for starting fresh peace talks with the Taliban after the US drawdown from the war-torn nation, reports AP.
Ghani was received by National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz at Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi, an official said.
He is accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising cabinet ministers, high-ranking officials and business representatives. Ghani, during his two day visit, is expected to meet prime minister Nawaz Sharif tomorrow and president Mamnoon Hussain later today.
Among other interactions, the Afghan president is also expected to watch a cricket match with his counterpart Sharif in the capital tomorrow between his country’s team and an A Team of Pakistan.
Terrorism and security issues are set to top the agenda between the two sides, who frequently accuse each other of abetting violence and providing safe-havens to militants operating in their territories.
Border management, intelligence sharing and Afghanistan’s security after the US pulls out its combat troops from the country after a 13-year long mission there will also be discussed, the official said.
The two sides are also focusing on improving trade ties and their trade ministries agreed yesterday to increase the current USD 2.5 billion trade to USD 5 billion.
They also agreed to keep the border crossing open throughout the week for trade.
Analysts believe that Pakistan is sighting an opportunity to improve its relations with Kabul, after years of mutual mistrust. Bilateral relations plummeted to a historical low under the leadership of former president Hamid Karzai, who frequently accused Pakistan of not allowing its war-torn neighbour to settle down as a hedge against Indian influence there, a charge rejected by Islamabad.
Ghani was sworn as president in September after the US brokered a peace deal between the two warring presidential candidates – Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah – to form a unity government.
Pakistan is one of the first countries Ghani is visiting as president. He has earlier toured Saudi Arabia and China.