ISLAMABAD - Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad Wednesday said that peace in Afghanistan was vital to stability in Pakistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad visited Islamabad on October 9 in his first visit to Pakistan since being named as Special Representative by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.   During his stay in Pakistan, Special Representative Khalilzad met with key officials in the government of Pakistan, said a US embassy statement. 

He consulted with Pakistani leaders on how best to achieve a durable political settlement in Afghanistan. 

Khalilzad reiterated that peace in Afghanistan was vital to the long-term stability of Pakistan and the wider region, the statement said. After departing Pakistan, Special Representative Khalilzad will travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, it added.

After meetings between US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, officials said the two countries had agreed to work jointly to placate the Taliban and bring them on the talks table.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had been in contact with Kabul after the talks with Khalilzad.

“The two countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan) are positive about improving ties and removing misunderstandings,” said one official.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom appointed Simon Penney as the new Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, said a British High Commission statement issued here yesterday.

Appointed by the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, the former banking chief executive becomes the most senior UK trade figure to be based in the region, the statement said.

In this new role, Penney will drive the UK’s trade and investment ambitions across the region, taking a leading role in efforts to boost export growth, two-way investment and, increasingly open up markets by seeking to help resolve market access barriers and create business environments making Pakistan an attractive place for UK companies to do business.

This further reinforces the UK government’s commitment to increasing trade with Pakistan. Deputy High Commissioner and UK Trade Director for Pakistan Elin Burns leads the trade team in Islamabad and Karachi.   In September last year, the Prime Minister appointed Member of Parliament Rehman Chishti as her trade envoy to Pakistan. He has visited Pakistan three times in that role. And now Simon Penney will lead the trade effort across the region. This is all part of the UK’s strong commitment to increase bilateral trade.

Speaking of his role, Simon Penney said: “The UK’s trading relationship with the region is already strong, but its true potential has not yet been tapped.  We want to work in partnership with businesses and governments to identify opportunities for greater collaboration.  This could be in traditional sectors of energy and infrastructure, but also in sectors’ which are key to transformation. Healthcare and life sciences, education, professional services and consumer goods are sectors where UK expertise has much to contribute.”

The Acting British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Richard Crowder, said: “Simon Penney’s appointment as Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan is a demonstration of the UK’s commitment to boost the UK-Pakistan trade relationship.  Last year our bilateral trade was almost £ 3 billion. The UK has also overtaken China this year to become Pakistan’s second-largest export market in goods globally, but we want to see more UK companies doing business in, and with, Pakistan.”