Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to strengthen cooperation in anti-terror campaign;achieve$5b trade by2015

ISLAMABAD, Dec 5 (APP)- Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism for peace and stability in the region and intensifying trade and economic cooperation to achieve $ 5 billion target of bilateral trade by 2015. The agreement to this effect was reached during the wide-ranging talks between President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, who visited Kabul on the invitation of the Afghan President on December 4-5.

According to a joint statement issued simultaneously from Islamabad and Kabul at the conclusion of Prime Minister Gilani’s visit on Sunday, the two leaders agreed that “Terrorism and violent extremism and their international support networks are a major threat undermining peace and stability in the region and beyond, and reiterated their commitment to effectively cooperating, combating and defeating these threats and eliminating their sanctuaries wherever they are.

“Pakistan supports the efforts of the President, Government and people of Afghanistan for peace and national reconciliation, which should naturally be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led efforts.  Pakistan welcomes the establishment of the High Peace Council and wishes the government and brotherly people of Afghanistan every success”.

“Strengthen interaction among the security and counter-terrorism institutions of the two countries for promoting effective cooperation”. President Karzai and Prime Minister Gilani also agreed to “accelerate the implementation of the RECCA IV deliverables in different areas of regional economic cooperation, particularly those important projects on energy cooperation such as the CASA- 1000 and TAPI (Turkmenistan- Afghanistan- Pakistan- India) Gas Pipeline.
“Develop a joint approach to further strengthen economic, educational, transit-trade and investment cooperation between the two countries including through the existing bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral and regional cooperation frameworks.

“Focus on infrastructure development particularly rail and road connectivity between the two countries particularly the following projects: Peshawar- Jalalabad rail link; Quetta-Kandahar rail link; Build modern facilities at Landi- Kotal- Torkhem and Chaman- Spinboldak”. The two leaders agreed to “Prioritize economic cooperation and integration through, among other means, full and seamless implementation of the Afghanistan- Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) as of January 2011.

“Agree to work jointly to achieve the target of $ 5 billion bilateral trade by 2015, by inter-alia pursuing closer customs and tariff harmonization and facilitating greater interaction among the private sectors of the two countries. “Note that their countries’ rich mineral resources afford opportunities for shared development. In this regard, agree to identify projects and develop cooperation. Regularly review bilateral development projects including building of schools, universities hospitals and roads with Pakistan’s assistance”. President Karzai and Prime Minister Gilani also agreed to “Explore the continuation of cooperation in promoting vocational training centers in Afghanistan in different fields.

“Support establishment of agricultural research institutions in Afghanistan in bilateral manner or through third parties.  Agree to undertake establishment of economic zones through joint projects for economic development between the two countries. “Examine ways to enhance capacity building and human resource development of their peoples.

“Enhance bilateral interaction for effective utilization of 2,000 scholarships for Afghan students announced by Pakistan over the next three (3) years. “Devise a joint approach for establishing vocational training centers in Afghanistan. “Decide to establish forthwith, following working groups to oversee progress in agreed areas: Infrastructure and Connectivity;
Trade facilitation; Economic zones between two countries; Customs Cooperation; and Planning and Development”. The President and the Prime Minister held in-depth consultations to strengthen the partnership through enhanced bilateral cooperation in various fields.
According to the joint statement the President and Prime Minister reaffirmed the existing historical, cultural and religious ties between the two brotherly and friendly countries and its peoples.

They stressed the importance of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan to tackle their common challenges of Terrorism, Poverty, Narcotics Production and its Addiction, Trafficking of Precursors and Consumption, and Organized Crime; Affirmed their enduring commitment to a durable partnership for peace, shared development and prosperity; Acknowledged that a strong partnership can be built only on the principles of mutual respect and equality;

The two leaders emphasized that strong ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan are vital for the regional and international security and stability; Welcomed the launch of the Kabul Process and supporting the outcomes of the Kabul International Conference on July 20, 2010 as a milestone in this process; Underlined the importance of the Peace Jerga and establishment of the High Peace Council for the implementation of Reconciliation and Reintegration programs;
Expressed satisfaction at the progress being made in strengthening their economic partnership including the signing of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement on October 28, 2010 in Kabul;

The two leaders also recalled the historic Joint Declaration on Directions of Bilateral Cooperation (January 2009), the Joint Declaration on Next Steps in Pakistan-Afghanistan Comprehensive Cooperation (March 2010) and the Joint Statement on Strengthening the Partnership (September 2010).

During the visit, the Prime Minister of Pakistan met Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, Mohammad Karim Khalili, Vice Presidents of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani, Chairman of Peace High Council, Mohammad Younos Qanooni, Speaker of Wolesi Jirga, Ustad Mohammad Mohaqiq, Chairman Commission on Religious, Cultural and Educational Affairs of Wolesi Jirga and discussed range of bilateral, regional, and international issues of mutual interests, the statement said.

Prime Minister Gilani had a constructive meeting with the leadership of Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries to promote the trade relations between the two countries. He also met with the large cross-section of Afghan nationals graduated from Pakistani universities and professional colleges. The Prime Minister also inaugurated the construction work of the Embassy of Pakistan complex in Karte- Parwan, Kabul – APP