ISLAMABAD -  Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif Thursday said that ultimately Pakistan and Afghanistan had to resolve their issues bilaterally without intercession.

Speaking to journalists after visiting Afghan embassy here to condole over the deaths caused by recent terrorist incidents in Kabul, Asif said other countries can help the dialogue process, in a supportive role, but ultimately Pakistan and Afghanistan had to decide their own future.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan will have to work together to address the challenge. There is a strong desire on both sides for peace in the region,” he said.

The minister’s words came amid tension between the neighbours as they exchange allegations of sheltering militants.

Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak and National Directorate of Security Chief Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai were in Pakistan on January 31, carrying a message from President Ashraf Ghani for Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

The Afghan team held a meeting with PM Abbasi to discuss the growing tension. The meeting was also attended by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Inter Services Intelligence Chief Naveed Mukhtar, Chief of General Staff General Bilal Akbar, Afghan envoy to Pakistan Dr Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal and other officials.

Pakistan rejected the ‘documentary evidence’ shared by Afghan delegation regarding the recent spate of attacks by the Taliban in the war-torn country. Pakistan, however, pledged to cooperate with Kabul to fight terrorism.

Later, Pakistan extended the validity of the Proof of Registration Cards for Afghan Refugees by 60 days. A cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Abbasi decided that the PoR will be valid until the end of March.

The validity of legal refugee status for many Afghan refugees expired on January 31. Pakistan has extended the validity of PoR for the refugees at least six times in the past. The last time extension was granted only for a month. This was the shortest extension ever granted.

Asif said Pakistan and Afghanistan could successfully fight the war against terror. “To some extent, a third party can be helpful but ultimately Pakistan and Afghanistan will have to work together to face the challenge and defeat terrorism,” he said.

The minister said meetings of high-level Afghan delegation with Pakistan leadership have been “constructive and positive.” He said the visit also demonstrated the will of the two neighbours to join hands in fighting the war against terror.

A separate statement by the foreign ministry said Khawaja Asif visited the Afghan embassy in Islamabad to convey condolences over the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul resulting in the loss of precious human lives, infrastructure and a number of people.

“The Foreign Minister signed the condolence book and offered Fateha for those who have lost their lives. He also expressed sincere wishes for the early recovery of the injured,” said the statement.

Asif said Pakistan strongly condemned terrorism in all forms and manifestations. He said both Afghanistan and Pakistan were victims of terrorism and that there was a need for close cooperation between the two countries to fight this common threat.

Afghan Ambassador Omer Zakhilwal, on the occasion, said mutual discussions and good relations were necessary to eliminate the monster of terrorism.

Agreeing with the Foreign Minister about the need for strengthening bilateral engagement, he said, the cooperation should be focused on upholding our mutual commitment for not letting use of our respective soils against each other.

Meanwhile, officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had asked Afghanistan to stop following India and hold talks with Pakistan for the sake of regional peace.

A delegation from Islamabad led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua will visit Afghanistan on February 3 to hold discussions with Afghanistan on all issues, including counter-terrorism, peace and reconciliation and repatriation of refugees. The Pakistani delegation will participate in the first meeting of Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity.

One official said: “We have contacted Afghanistan and have asked them to consider their own interests instead of following India. They agree that talks are the best option.”

Another official said the Afghan delegation had come up with some ‘evidence’ accusing Pakistan-based militants of carrying out terror activities in Afghanistan. “We are investigating their allegations. The evidence is not convincing but we will still seriously investigate it. If anything is proven, we will act,” he added.