ASHGABAT (APP) - President Asif Ali Zardari Wednesday said Pakistan’s bilateral relations with Afghanistan were the most important component of its shared quest for peace and stability in the region. Talking to President Hamid Karzai here in the capital of Turkmenistan, the President said Pakistan was fully committed to long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan. The President is in Turkmenistan to attend the International Nowruz Festival that is being attended by leaders and representatives from 11 countries.

President Zardari referring to Pakistan’s quest for peace in the region said the release of Taliban prisoners by Pakistan was done on the request of the Afghan High Peace Council. He said it was a demonstration of Pakistan’s sincere support to the reconciliation efforts of the Afghan government.  The President said Pakistan was sincere in its endeavors and fully supports an Afghan led and owned reconciliation process in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan has suggested to the Afghan government to hold ministerial meetings on transit issues and border management. Both these meetings were agreed to in Chequers during the Pakistan-Afghanistan-UK trilateral summit. He said a peaceful, stable and economically developed Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interest. President Zardari said despite Pakistan’s own financial constraints, it was providing bilateral assistance of $300 million to Afghanistan. He said Pakistan’s development projects in Afghanistan include building of large hospitals in Kabul and Logar, a high-tech Kidney Centre in Jalalabad, faculty blocks in Kabul and Nangarhar universities, Engineering University in Balkh, schools and roads.

The President said closer coordination between the security forces of the two countries was important for effective border management. He said it was also important to deter cross-border incursions, illicit drug trade, smuggling and illegal movement of people.

President Zardari pointed that there was a clear nexus between drug trade and terrorism and it was necessary that this chord was cut.

The President said there was also a need to defeat the mindset which promotes extremism and terrorism. He said both the countries have suffered enormously at the hands of this scourge.

Referring to the bilateral trade and economic ties between the two countries, President Zardari said Pakistan was ready to discuss trade with Central Asian countries at Commerce Minister’s level. He also stressed extension of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement to Tajikistan and grant of access to Pakistan through Wahkhan corridor.