Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 34° Cloudy
News >  World

Pakistani prime minister in Afghanistan to ease tensions

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrives at the Parliament on July 31, 2017 in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Anjum Naveed / Associated Press)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrives at the Parliament on July 31, 2017 in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Anjum Naveed / Associated Press)
By Rahim Faiez Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan – Pakistan’s prime minister arrived in Afghanistan on Friday for a day-long visit many see as an effort to ease strained relations between the two neighbors and revive a push for peace talks with the Taliban.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was welcomed by Afghan President Asharf Ghani and the two inspected an honor guard at the Presidential Palace in Kabul before heading in for meetings.

A statement issued by the Afghan presidential palace after the meeting said the two sides discussed counterterrorism, Afghan-led peace talks and border violations. They also discussed refugee and repatriations issues, the exchange of prisoners and finalization of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for peace and solidarity.

Abbasi, accompanied by several other top Pakistani officials on the trip, his first to Kabul since becoming prime minister last year, is to hold meetings with a string of Afghan officials, according to Ghani’s spokesman, Shah Hussain Murtazawi.

Pakistan has been under pressure from Kabul and Washington to stop offering safe havens to militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies.

Pakistan, widely believed to be the only party that can bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, also insists its influence over the insurgents has been exaggerated.

Kabul and Islamabad regularly trade accusations of harboring the other country’s militants and the harsh language has underscored the strains between them.

Late on Thursday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement rejecting a claim made by Kabul that Pakistan violated Afghan airspace with Pakistani Air Force raids inside Afghan territory during counter-terrorism operations earlier in the week.

The statement said information about the ongoing “operations is shared with the Afghan security forces on a regular basis.” In the latest military actions, Pakistan told the Afghan about them and stressed that these operations were on Pakistani side of the border, it said.

Islamabad accuses Kabul of failing to take action against militant groups who continue to attack Pakistan from their sanctuaries across the border in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan urges Afghanistan to focus on taking effective counter-terrorism actions, including plugging in of large gaps existing along the Afghan side of Pakistan-Afghanistan border,” the statement said, adding that “it is also important that the Afghan government should refrain from the blame game.”

Also on Thursday, Javid Faisal, deputy spokesman for Afghanistan’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, said that Pakistan’s support was critical to talks with the Taliban and that Abbasi’s visit would help improve the troubled Afghan-Pakistan relations.

In January, President Donald Trump lashed out at Pakistan, saying the United States had “foolishly” given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but “lies & deceit.” Washington later confirmed it is withholding $255 million in U.S. military aid to Pakistan this year.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.