Islamabad - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday reiterated his vision for finding a peaceful solution in Afghanistan, fully owned and led by the Afghans themselves.

Talking to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who made a telephone call to him yesterday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the spirit of brotherhood defined Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan.

The two leaders exchanged views on matters relating to peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region.

Imran Khan said the prolonged Afghan conflict has damaged Afghanistan and adversely affected Pakistan over the past many decades.

Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani agreed to realise the true economic potential of the two countries for assured socio-economic development, alleviation of poverty, and welfare of the two peoples.

They also agreed to make efforts for availing the geographic locations of Afghanistan and Pakistan to enhance regional connectivity. The two leaders exchanged views on matters relating to peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region, it added.

Imran once again extended an invitation to President Ghani to visit Pakistan for a comprehensive exchange of views on all issues of mutual interest. Dates for the visit would be decided through mutual consultations, according to the statement.

According to a statement issued by the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country is ready for “any cooperation” which will lead to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

He said that he is agreed with President Ghani’s economy-centric idea and regional connectivity and that it requires further talks between delegations from the two countries about technical issues of these topics.

Imran Khan invited the Afghan president to visit Pakistan for detailed discussion and reaching a “clear understanding” on economic issues and regional connectivity.

Ghani, meanwhile, appreciated Pakistani Prime Minister’s commitment for cooperation in the Afghan peace process and said the new spirit of economy-centric and regional connectivity by Pakistan is appreciable.

According to the statement, Ghani accepted Imran Khan’s invitation for visiting Pakistan.

 

US-TALIBAN TALKS

 

American and Taliban negotiators continued peace talks in the Qatari capital of Doha after a one-day break, although neither side has reported whether the discussions are making any headway.

Officials said the talks remain focused on when US-led foreign troops will withdraw in return for Taliban assurances that Afghanistan will not be used by transnational militant groups, including Al-Qaeda and IS.

US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad emphasised the need for all parties involved in the Afghan conflict to reduce violence in order to support efforts aimed at reaching a negotiated settlement.

“All sides laying down arms is the outcome of any peace process. All sides agreeing to reduce violence is a necessary step toward achieving that outcome and the morally responsible choice to make. We stand ready,” Khalilzad tweeted Saturday.

In a statement Friday, though, the Taliban again refused to cease hostilities or engage in intra-Afghan peace talks until their ongoing dialogue with Washington produces an agreement on withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Khalilzad repeatedly has stated that a final deal with the Taliban on troop withdrawal and counterterrorism assurances would require the insurgent group to engage in intra-Afghan dialogue and a comprehensive cease-fire.

 

AIRSTRIKES KILL UP TO 50 IS MILITANTS

 

Authorities in Afghanistan said coalition airstrikes in an eastern province have killed up to 50 Islamic State militants, while Taliban insurgents have killed at least seven government forces in a western district.

The Defence Ministry said the overnight airstrikes were carried out in coordination with Afghan ground forces and they struck IS training centres in the troubled Chapa Darah district of Kunar province. It asserted foreigners, including Uzbeks and Pakistanis were among the slain militants.

The deputy provincial governor, Gul Mohammad Baidar, told VOA that a key IS commander of Uzbek ethnicity also was among the dead. He confirmed there was no letup in clashes in the district involving Taliban insurgents and IS militants.

UN humanitarian agencies have reported the fighting in Chapa Darah has forced thousands of Afghan families in recent weeks to flee to safety.

The Taliban and IS routinely attack each other’s positions in Kunar and parts of neighboring Nangarhar province in their bid to expand their influence. Both of the Afghan provinces border Pakistan.

Separately, officials in the western Afghan province of Badghis confirmed Saturday the Taliban late night stormed security check points in the Qadis district, killing seven police officers and injuring several others.