News - Afghanistan
Pakistan and Afghanistan have resumed high-level contacts rekindling hopes for normalization of their bilateral relationship.
According to Pakistan's Express Tribune, on Saturday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Ashgabat, in Turkmenistan, on the sidelines of the UN Global Conference on Sustainable Transport and the outgoing army chief, General Raheel Sharif, spoke to Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah on the phone.
The prime minister and the army chief contacted the Afghan leaders at a time when Islamabad has stepped up efforts to encourage the Taliban to join the peace process.
It was learnt that there had been some diplomatic efforts this month when a three-member Taliban delegation was in Pakistan's capital to explore peace prospects.
"The Taliban's Qatar office is now considering a strategy for possible political negotiations," a member of the Taliban office in Qatar said.
Sharif and Ghani discussed peace prospects and the former 'appreciated' Afghan government's efforts for peace and stability in the strife-torn country.
"[He] also expressed support to the peace deal between Afghan government and Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan," Sharif's office said in a statement.
The prime minister said a politically negotiated settlement through an Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process is the most viable option for lasting peace in Afghanistan, reported the Express Tribune.
"Pakistan will continue its serious efforts for facilitating the peace process, including through the Quadrilateral Cooperation Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the US," he told Ghani.
The chief military spokesman, Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, confirmed that the army chief made a 'farewell call' to Abdullah. "Next talk with Dr Ashraf Ghani is planned," said Gen Bajwa, who heads the Inter-Services Public Relations.
Earlier the Afghan chief executive's office tweeted: "Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif made a phone call to [Afghan] chief executive as a farewell discussion Sunday.