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ISLAMABAD: The High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) of Afghanistan chairman Dr Abdullah Abdullah is landing in Islamabad today. His visit is being seen as a significant development in the backdrop of recently held peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar.

Dr Abdullah will be visiting Islamabad on a three-day visit from Sep 28-30, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Sunday.

He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including prominent members of the High Council for National Reconciliation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement.

During the visit, Dr Abdullah Abdullah will call on the prime minister and president, and will have interaction with chairman Senate, speaker of the National Assembly, foreign minister and other dignitaries, the statement added. He will deliver a key-note address at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad and also have interaction with the media, it said.

This is Dr Abdullah Abdullah’s first visit to Pakistan in his capacity of chairman High Council for National Reconciliation, the FO said. “The visit will provide an opportunity for wide-ranging exchange of views on the Afghan peace process and strengthening of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and people-to-people interaction,” it added.

“Pakistan attaches high importance to its fraternal ties with Afghanistan, rooted deep in shared history, faith, culture, values and traditions. Pakistan fully supports all efforts for peace, stability and prosperity of the Afghan people.

The visit of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah will contribute to further strengthening amity, brotherhood and close cooperation between the two countries,” the FO statement said.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan in his virtual address at the 75th United Nations General Assembly session, said “With the exception of the resilient Afghans themselves, no people have paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than the people of Pakistan. Through decades of conflict, Pakistan has dealt with the responsibility of taking care of more than 4 million Afghan refugees. Guns and drugs have also flowed into our country. The wars have disrupted our economic trajectory and radicalized fringes of our own society.”

On Sep 12, the Afghan government and Taliban representatives started peace talks in Doha, Qatar, as part of the efforts to end around two-decade long violence in the war-torn country that has claimed thousands of lives.

On Sep 14, special representative of the US for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad visited Islamabad and met Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other senior Pakistani officials. He “thanked Pakistan for its role in advancing the Afghanistan peace process,” and expressed “appreciation on behalf of the United States, especially the important role that Prime Minister Imran Khan and General Bajwa played in facilitating the start of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations in Doha on September 12, and stressed the need for ongoing regional and international support for this historic opportunity for peace,” the US Embassy in Pakistan said in a statement then. The statement quoted the US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo as having said “The United States will never forget the solidarity of our many allies and partners who have stood with us in the long struggle to end this war.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020