In a press release, the military’s media wing said that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday to discuss “issues of mutual interest, regional security, the current situation in Afghanistan, and measures to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields.”
“Both sides agreed to continue exploring avenues for collaboration in defense, training, and counter-terrorism domains,” the statement by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
“COAS reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to making all-out efforts to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and supports an all-inclusive Afghan government.”
“Both reiterated the desire to further enhance bilateral relations, including efforts for peace and security in the region and fight against Covid-19.”
“The visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s role in Afghan situation, including successful evacuation operations, regional stability and pledged to play their role for further improvement in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels,” it added.
Raab arrived in Pakistan on Thursday and was greeted by officials from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry and the British High Commission after landing at Nur Khan Airbase.
In a press conference on Friday at the Foreign Office alongside Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Raab said: “We do not recognize the Taliban as a government, but we do see the importance of engaging and having a direct line of communication with them.”
During their discussion, Raab and Qureshi also discussed the status of bilateral ties.
“In the context of bilateral relations, it was agreed that the strong Pakistan-UK bilateral relations must be further expanded, especially in the economic and trade spheres,” the FO said in a statement, adding that the two sides reaffirmed the resolve to upgrade the relationship from the current Enhanced Strategic Dialogue to the next level.
Qureshi urged that the British government rethink its decision to maintain Pakistan on the ‘Red List’ for travel, requiring visitors from the country to undergo hotel quarantine.
He also emphasized Pakistan’s progress in implementing the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) action plan during the conference and expressed the hope that no effort to politicize the process will be permitted.
“The basis for the UK-Pakistan relationship is very strong — and the UK has the desire to take it to the next level. We also have a very clear and shared interest in the future of Afghanistan. We will judge the Taliban by their actions, not their words,” Raab declared.
Calls on premier
Raab met with Prime Minister Imran Khan later on Friday.
The prime minister stressed the need of stabilising Afghanistan’s security situation, taking measures to solidify peace, and preventing a mass departure at the meeting. He said that preventing humanitarian crises and stabilizing the economy were the most pressing concerns.
He encouraged the international community to show support for the Afghan people, participate in constructive dialogue, and provide incentives to ensure a peaceful, stable, and inclusive government.