ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Afghanistan yesterday reached a tentative peace agreement as Kabul promised to act against terrorists’ sanctuaries inside its territory but handed a list of 32 alleged training centres seeking action from Islamabad.

The two sides showed optimism to settle the issues after a meeting between Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal here.

The Afghan envoy had been to Kabul over the weekend and returned earlier in the day carrying his country’s message for Pakistan’s civil and military leadership.

Last week, the military had summoned officials from Afghanistan embassy at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and presented a list of 76 most-wanted terrorists.

After the meeting with Aziz, Omar Zakhilwal posted on social media that the meeting was positive and the two sides could move forward in a positive way.

“I passed on documents both to Pak(istan) MOFA (Minister of Foreign Affairs) as well as to GHQ (General Headquarters) as mentioned in a press release by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, I had a very positive meeting with Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs and a constructive talk with the GHQ right after my return from Kabul today. As a result I expect quick de-escalation of the current tension and the creation of a more positive environment for responding to each other’s concerns and grievances in a cooperative manner. We have agreed tentatively on a path forward,” he said in his message posted on Twitter and the Facebook.

Foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria confirmed the meeting and hoped it will help in defusing the tensions. “Both the sides have been positive. There has been a consensus for efforts to ensure peace,” he said.

In a statement the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan said Kabul had given a “list of 32 terrorist training centres that are operating on Pakistani soil against Afghanistan to Pakistani authorities through Afghan Ambassador to Islamabad and asked for immediate actions against these centres.”

“The letter given to the Pakistani side also includes once again, the names of 85 senior members and leaders of the Taliban and other terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network who has been responsible for crimes against the Afghan people so that Pakistan takes actions to arrest and hand them over to the Afghan government,” it added.

The Afghan ministry’s statement said the ‘initial response of the Pakistani authorities was positive’ and ‘we hope that the government of Pakistan takes practical steps in this regard.’

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan once again desires to discuss and take responsible actions jointly with the Government of Pakistan on the lists and concerns of both sides, particularly within the framework of quadrilateral cooperation group,” it said.

Afghanistan, it said, “emphasizes that if violence continues against the people of Afghanistan, it will continue its efforts to increase sanctions against all terrorist groups and their supporters through international mechanisms, especially the United Nations.”

Also yesterday, Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa said enhanced security arrangements along Pak-Afghan border were to fight terrorists. He said Pakistan and Afghanistan had fought against terrorism and will continue joint efforts.

Bajwa welcomed recent proposals from the Afghan authorities to take forward mutual coordination for result-oriented efforts against terrorism.

According to the ISPR, General Bajwa, while chairing a high-level security meeting at the GHQ, said enhanced security arrangements along Pak-Afghan border are aimed at fighting the common enemy that is terrorists of all hue and colour.

Bajwa directed for more effective border coordination and cooperation with Afghan security forces to prevent cross-border movement of terrorists including all types of illegal movement.

Pakistan forces yesterday also moved heavy artillery and military equipment closer to Pak-Afghan border.

Officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation, that Pakistan’s stern response to the Afghan-based terrorists had forced Kabul to opt for the dialogue process with Pakistan.

A senior official at the ministry said: “We were left with no option but to respond seriously. We had told them enough is enough and we will not compromise on national security. Kabul is also a victim of terrorism and they need to cooperate with us.”

He said Pakistan had always shown positive response to all efforts for peace in Afghanistan but “unfortunately, Afghanistan has been allowing India to use its soil against Pakistan.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of families were fleeing from both sides of Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan Monday, officials said, as Islamabad continued a crackdown on extremists after multiple attacks last week raised fears of a militant resurgence.

Pakistan has accused Afghanistan of harbouring the militants who carried out last week’s attacks, which killed more than 100 people across the country.

The military said it used heavy artillery to fire at militant hideouts in Afghanistan Monday, after carrying out airstrikes on both sides of the border over the weekend.

Journalists are not allowed into the area and the claims could not be independently verified.

But officials on the Afghan side said at least six people had been killed, and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said the firing had displaced up to 200 families. “Military fire across the border into Nangarhar and Kunar provinces has forced Afghan families to flee their homes... (such) attacks forcibly displace civilians, violating International Humanitarian Law, and must stop,” said NRC Country Director in Afghanistan, Kate O’Rourke.

A Pakistani security source told AFP Monday that up to 700 Pakistani families were being evacuated from along the border in Khyber Agency “to protect them from any retaliatory attack”.

Afghan officials said a number of special forces had been deployed to the border to counter any Pakistani raids. “If they continue their attacks we will respond in kind,” said Attahullah Khogyani, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.

In Asadabad, the capital of Afghanistan’s Kunar province, also on the border, hundreds of Afghans gathered to protest against Pakistan and to ask foreign governments to put pressure on it.

Amid a security crackdown, border crossings were closed and Afghan diplomats were summoned to Pakistan’s military headquarters in Islamabad and given a list of 76 “most-wanted terrorists” that Pakistan said were in Afghanistan and demanded they be captured and handed over, the Pakistani army said.

The spike in tensions was triggered by last week’s assaults, the deadliest of which was a suicide attack at a crowded Sufi shrine on Thursday which killed 90 people, according to a new official toll, and which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

A series of other attacks were apparently coordinated by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Pakistani Taliban), including a bombing in Lahore which killed 14 people and wounded dozens on February 13.