ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said that the United States and Pakistan will work together for peace in Afghanistan and the region.

Chairing a federal cabinet meeting here, Imran Khan said Pakistan will continue its positive role in seeking a political settlement in Afghanistan to bring peace and stability to the region.

The PM’s words came after US Special Representative Khalilzad concluded a visit to Pakistan where he discussed the partnership to ensure peace in Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad met Prime Minister Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa, and members of the diplomatic corps in Islamabad.

The US embassy Thursday said Ambassador Khalilzad “stressed the United States’ commitment to facilitating a political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban that ensures Afghanistan never again serves as a platform for international terrorism and ends the 40-years-long war in the country, and he highlighted that all countries in the region will benefit from peace in Afghanistan.”

Prime Minister Khan said Pakistan had always been playing an active role to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

He said it was a matter of great satisfaction that the world powers, particularly the United States, had recognised Islamabad’s contribution to this effect.

The Prime Minister said Zalmay Khalilzad had ‘very productive meetings’ with him and the Foreign Minister.

He said the US had sought Pakistan’s support in advancing the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Imran Khan said it was the vindication of his viewpoint about seeking a political settlement in Afghanistan through dialogue with all the stakeholders including Taliban.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan was also in touch with the Saudi and Iranian leadership to bring peace to strife-hit Yemen by bringing all the parties concerned to the negotiating table. He said during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, he discussed the Yemen issue with the Saudi leadership and received a very positive response.

Khan said Iranian Foreign Minister Jawwad Zarif also paid a visit to Islamabad and discussed the modalities for Yemen peace process.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan will continue to play a mediatory role for peace in Yemen to ultimately bring a lasting peace and stability to the region.

Imran Khan said Pakistan also took a landmark initiative to inaugurate the Kartarpur corridor to facilitate the Sikh pilgrims to visit their sacred religious places in Pakistan.

He said it was Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s manifesto to facilitate followers of all religions including Sikhism, Hinduism and Bhudism to visit their religious places in Pakistan.

Imran Khan said no one should indulge in politics on such purely religious and public interest issues for seeking any political mileage.

He regretted that Indian government is trying to politicise Kartarpur initiative whereas the Sikh community all around the world has warmly welcomed Pakistan’s move.

The PM said all the economic indicators were showing positive trend and Pakistan has now entered the phase of an emerging economy. He said a number of top multinational companies have shown keen interest to invest in Pakistan in different sectors

The Prime Minister said Pakistan was also inviting renowned international companies to explore minerals particularly oil and gas in off-shore areas.

Later, briefing the journalists about the cabinet meeting, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar said federal cabinet approved launch of ‘National Poverty Graduation Programme’ to uplift the standard of the poor.

The minister said Rs18 billion had been allocated for the programme. He said the needy people will be provided technical equipment to start their small businesses instead of being given cash.

Hammad Azhar said deserving people will be selected from the Benazir Income Support Programme beneficiaries through a biometric system, and women and disabled persons will be given priority.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Media Iftikhkar Durrani said the cabinet approved the Economic Coordination Committee’s decision of exporting 1.1 million tons sugar.

He said subsidy of Rs25.5 billion on gas to zero rated industry in Punjab was also approved for facilitating the export sector.

Iftikhar Durrani said it was also decided that an agreement against money laundering will also be signed with Canada.

He said a negative propaganda was being spread against the ongoing anti-encroachment drive. He said the campaign is aimed at retrieving the state land from the land mafia.

He said the land worth billions of rupees recovered in Islamabad will be used for better purposes.