ISLAMABAD - Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul as he visited the neighbouring country on Tuesday.

The COAS made an unannounced visit to Kabul in connection with the ongoing efforts to find a solution to the US war in Afghanistan, a conflict which has lasted nearly two decades.

On its official Twitter account, Pakistan Embassy in Kabul released a picture of General Bajwa having a meeting with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace besides retweeting tweets of Afghan leader Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

“Welcoming Pakistan’s COAS, Gen Qamar J. Bajwa @SapedarPalace, we held productive talks and stressed on the unique opportunity to further the cause of peace in AFG & stability in the region as the HCNR & Afghan leaders take necessary steps toward intra-Afghan negotiations,” tweeted Abdullah Abdullah. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s other tweet read as “Bajwa expressed Pakistan’s support for our efforts & earliest possible start of I/A talks. I told him that we are ready to engage with the Taliban on our common issues to end conflict & live together in peace. I reiterated on Pakistan’s constructive role in this regard.”

DG ISI, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Pakistan’s Special Envoy on Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq accompanied COAS

The Pakistan Army chief was accompanied by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director-General, Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed and Pakistan’s special envoy on Afghanistan, Muhammad Sadiq.

This was is the first visit to Kabul by a high-ranking Pakistani official since Ghani’s second term in office.

It comes ahead of the imminent intra-Afghan talks and only two days after US President Donald Trump’s point man for Afghanistan held talks with General Bajwa to discuss the next steps for advancing peace process that has moved slowly since the landmark deal signed between the US and Afghan Taliban on February 29. The bilateral relationship between the two neighbouring countries is often marred by deep mistrust. Earlier, the US point person on the issue, Zalmay Khalilzad met with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and DG ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and other senior security officials in Islamabad.

During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, overall security situation including Afghan refugees’ issue and Afghan reconciliation process and Pak-Afghan border management were discussed. Pakistan has played a pivotal role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table with the US and eventually led to the deal between the US and the Taliban.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistan Army, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), held one-on-one meetings with President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, Dr Abdullah Abdullah during his visit to Kabul on Tuesday.

COAS was accompanied by PM’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Affairs, Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq. Both sides discussed current developments in Afghan Peace Process and necessary steps to be undertaken to facilitate an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process.

“Issues related to facilitation of trade and connectivity also came under discussion. Both sides agreed that a dignified and time-bound return of Afghan Refugees from Pakistan is a key towards normalcy.”

President Ashraf Ghani expressed his appreciation for Prime Minister of Pakistan for opening of Torkham and Chaman border for allowing Afghan transit goods and facilitating stranded Afghans to return to Afghanistan by land and air routes. The President was also appreciative of the role being played by Pakistan for Afghan Peace Process.