The head of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, was on a three-day visit to Pakistan from 28th to 30th September 2020. This visit has been made in the times when Afghan-Taliban peace talks are underway. It was Dr. Abdullah’s first visit to any country in his position as the head of HCNR. It holds manifold and substantial importance for both Pakistan and Afghanistan and their bilateral relationship. This visit has provided an opportunity for both countries to exchange an extensive range of views on the Afghan peace talks with the Taliban. It will foster the Pak-Afghan relations and improving the public interaction between both the countries.

                 Dr. Abdullah Abdullah was received by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s adviser on commerce Razak Dawood and Pakistan’s Special Representatives for Afghanistan Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq on Monday, 28th September 2020. Immediately following his arrival in Islamabad, Dr. Abdullah met up with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Foreign Ministry. Both officials gave warm, welcoming gestures to each other by bumping elbows, and shed light on pivotal issues, including the Intra-Afghan peace talks taking place in Doha, Qatar, bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and political solutions to the Afghan conflict.

              Pakistan and Afghanistan’s relationship has gone through a very gnarled pathway over the years. Both countries have kept accusing each other of providing safe sanctuaries to terrorists and nurturing terrorist activities on each other’s grounds. Pakistan has continuously accused Afghanistan of being a safe haven to the terrorist band Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan. In contrast, Afghanistan continued to blame Pakistan for proselytizing militant activities from its lands, including the “Foster Care” for the Afghan Taliban. Furthermore, cross-border strikes have continued for a very long time from both sides in which Pakistani security posts were frequently attacked. Pakistan considers the Pak-Afghan border as an international boundary, but Afghanistan has always treated it as a disputed border. However, in his latest visit to Pakistan, the Afghan representative did not bring up the vexed past, neither did Pakistani officials dig into the past conflicts. Abdullah Abdullah’s tone seemed very reconciliatory to most analysts.

               He said, “After many disturbing years, its need of the hour to go beyond the usual stale rhetoric and conspiracy theories that have held us back. We cannot afford to pursue business as usual. We need fresh approaches and our people demand it of us. We do not want a terrorist footprint in our country or to allow any entity to pose a threat to any other nation.”

              Reverberating Abdullah Abdullah’s statement, the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated, “We need to recognize the mistakes of the past. Unless we recognize that, how do we move forward? Let’s not shy away from reality. Let’s accept reality and add a new chapter to our bilateral relations and build a common future for ourselves.”

             Shedding light on the ongoing Afghan-Taliban peace talks, Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed his views by saying,  

             “A new future, a peaceful future, is on the horizon. As we are speaking here, delegations from both sides in Doha, they are sitting around a table, discussing the ways and means of ending decades of conflict through a political settlement in Afghanistan. We have no favorites. My message is that we do not want to meddle in your internal affairs. My message is we respect and want to respect your sovereignty, your independence and your territorial integrity.”

             The HCNR’s head met with the Pakistani PM Imran Khan on Tuesday, 29th September and this has been one of the most important meetings between an Afghan and Pakistani official in a very long time. Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the importance of a political solution and the discouraged the idea of the military solutions engraved on Afghanistan’s territory since the beginning of the War on Terror. Imran Khan assured full economic and technical assistance to a war-torn Afghanistan for its Reconstruction and Development projects in a post-conflict period. PM Imran Khan has considered this visit of substantial importance because of the ray of hope for the new chapter in Pak-Afghan bilateral relations

              Giving his two cents on the Afghan-Taliban peace talks, Imran Khan has anticipated that Afghanistan clutches on tightly to this remarkable opportunity and use it profitably to their advantage and get their hands on a permanent political arrangement on the Taliban issue. He also recognized the importance of and rightly utilizing the mutual trade benefits that Pakistan and Afghanistan can attain from one another for a common and better economic future

               The decades-long rocky and thorny relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has finally started to burn down to ashes as Pakistan hosts the Afghan-Taliban peace talks in Qatar. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have shown strong aspirations for a fresh episode of bilateral relationships between them, which will be directed towards a prosperous future for both with no indications of the perturbed past.

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