ISLAMABAD: The flip-flops involving Pak-Afghan relations took yet another turn on Thursday after both sides came together to identify terrorism as a common enemy and reiterated closer cooperation to defeat it, just a couple of days after the exchange of hostile statements involving cross-border security issues.
“The two sides agreed that terrorism was a common enemy and emphasised closer cooperation and coordination at institutional level to deal with this common menace,” read a joint statement issued on the completion of one-day visit of Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta to Pakistan on Thursday. The Afghan official was accompanied by senior Afghan intelligence officials from the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and defence and diplomatic functionaries.
The adviser held separate meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif whom he delivered Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s “goodwill” letter, army chief General Raheel Sharif and PM’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz. The Pakistan side, according to the joint statement, reaffirmed providing “all-out support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process”. The PM welcomed President Karzai’s letter and Dr Spanta’s visit to Pakistan, the joint statement said. “Both sides reiterated their common resolve to further enhance the bilateral relationship in all dimensions in a meaningful and result-oriented manner.”
Requesting anonymity, a Pakistani diplomat said the visit was part of the damage control measures both sides were willing to undertake following recent spate of hostility. Moreover, the diplomat said, the outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai seeks to “make up” with Pakistan before bidding farewell to the presidency. “Pressure has mounted on them (Afghan government) after we landed the boots in North Waziristan. They don’t want to be shown as being aversive or hostile to Islamabad’s initiative against terrorism,” the official said.
Just two days ago, Pakistan’s Foreign Office had rejected the statement from Afghan Defence Minister General Bismillah Mohamadi made on Sunday that plain-clothed Pakistani soldiers conducted a cross-border attack to kill three Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers in Kunar province. “We reject these baseless allegations. The fact is that the Pakistan armed forces have been attacked repeatedly by terrorists operating from the Afghan territory. Our armed forces have acted only in self defence, with maximum restraint and responsibility,” a strong-worded statement from the FO said.
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