ISLAMABAD - Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Thursday visited Afghanistan and held separate meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar, Afghan Defence Minister General Bismillah Mohammadi and Afghan Chief of General Staff General Sher Muhammad Karimi and discussed with them bilateral military ties and cooperation in defence sector.

Both sides discussed forestalling of militants’ incursions on both sides of the border, with the Afghan officials later saying that a joint Af-Pak strategy to fight terrorism will be finalised within a week.

General Raheel Sharif congratulated the newly-elected Afghan president and expressed the hope that election of new government in Afghanistan will prove to be a historic opportunity to transform Pak-Afghan ties into a ‘warm and mutually beneficial’ relationship.

He reiterated that peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s best interest and the only way to ensure regional security was to treat terrorism as “our common enemy”.

Later, during meetings with the Afghan defence minister and the chief of general staff, Afghan military officials briefed the Pakistani delegation about the latest security situation in Afghanistan.

During the meeting, transfer of security responsibility to Afghan National Security Forces in the wake of US, ISAF drawdown and enhanced bilateralism between Pakistan and Afghanistan with particular emphasis on Pak-Afghan border coordination mechanism, intelligence sharing and transparency were deliberated upon.

Matters to enhance bilateral military-to-military relations were also discussed during the meeting. Gen Raheel offered full range of training courses and facilities at Pakistan’s training institutions to Afghan security forces.

According to Afghan news agencies, Gen Raheel Sharif, during a meeting with acting Afghan defence minister Bismillah Mohammadi, proposed training for the young Afghan army officers in Pakistan.

A statement released by the Afghan Ministry of Defence (MoD) in Kabul said Gen Raheel Sharif reaffirmed that Pakistan is prepared to assist Afghanistan in military, economic and political affairs.

“The chief of the army staff also offered capacity enhancement of an infantry brigade, including provision of equipment,” it said.

He reiterated that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s best interest.

The statement further added that two sides also discussed issues of bilateral interest, including joint fight against terrorism in the region.

Gen Raheel Sharif also vowed to assist Afghanistan in maintaining security along the Durand Line and insisted that maintaining better security across the Durand Line was in the interest of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In the meantime, Bismillah Mohammadi said the Afghan government is hopeful that the procedure (strategy) to jointly fight terrorism will be finalised by Kabul and Islamabad within the next one week which will help the Afghan and Pakistani forces to jointly fight terrorism.

Mohammadi said the procedure once finalised will help the two neighbours to further expand cooperation in fight against the terrorism.

Gen Raheel Sharif is the second senior Pakistani official visiting Afghanistan following the formation of the new Afghan unity government.

Earlier Pakistan’s national security adviser Sartaj Aziz visited Kabul to meet with the new Afghan leadership in a bid to improve ties between the two nations.

Later, during his meetings with the Afghan defence minister and chief of general staff Afghan military officials briefed the Pakistani delegation over the latest security situation in Afghanistan.

CJCSC DISCUSSES TIES WITH

CHINESE LEADERS

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood, who is on an official visit to China, held wide ranging talks with both civilian and military leadership.

According to Inter Services Public Relations, CJCSC Gen Rashad Mahmood met Chairman of Standing Committee of National People’s Congress, HE Mr. Zhang Dejiang, who conveyed the good wishes from the government and people of China to the government and people of Pakistan.

While interacting with China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, the CJCSC highlighted the convergence of geo-strategic interests of Pakistan with that of China and vowed that cordiality would be further enhanced.

Later Gen. Rashad held meeting with General Xu Qiliang, VC Central Military Commission and discussed matters related to ongoing mutual cooperation between the two Armed Forces. Detailed discussion was held with General Fang Fenghui, Chief of General Staff Peoples Liberation Army, on international and regional security issues, Pak-China bilateral relations with special focus on wide ranging cooperation between the two armed forces. The strength of relationship between Pakistan and China is deeply valued by both sides and renewed resolve is made to further cement it.

The Chinese side acknowledged and appreciated the successes of Pakistan Armed Forces in Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

Earlier, the CJCSC paid a visit to SASTIND Headquarters (State Administration for Science and Technology) and appreciated the strides made by the ministry and its affiliates in different aspects of Science and Technology.