Khar to visit Kabul on Feb 1

Khar to visit Kabul on Feb 1

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will visit Kabul on February 1 to boost Pakistan- Afghanistan ties and efforts to engage the Taliban that were affected by the assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani last year.

Khar will become the first Pakistani woman politician to lead a delegation to Afghanistan when she arrives in Kabul on a daylong trip. The visit is being seen as "an icebreaker in bilateral ties", The News daily quoted its sources as saying.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani decided to send Khar to Afghanistan to shore up bilateral ties during a meeting held on January 24.
That meeting had focussed on the regional security situation and the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. After a gap of several months, Pakistan and Afghanistan have quietly revived efforts to engage the Afghan Taliban ahead of the withdrawal of US troops from the war-torn country.

Ties between Islamabad and Kabul were hit by the assassination of Afghan High Peace Council chief Rabbani, which Afghan leaders blamed on elements based on Pakistani soil.
Premier Gilani and Afghan President Hamid Karzai had a very tense meeting on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit in the Maldives last year. Pakistan’s Foreign Office has said it is committed to working with Afghanistan to identify Rabbani’s killers.

During a recent address in parliament, Khar said Rabbani's assassin had travelled to Afghanistan from a refugee camp in Pakistan but the two sides have made little headway in identifying those who planned the killing. At the same time, the Foreign Office has reiterated that Pakistan will support any Afghan-led reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Analysts have noted that Islamabad is keen to re-engage with Kabul as it wants to curtail the role India will play in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops. It is believed that Turkey played a key role in easing tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Islamabad and Kabul are resuming their engagement at a time when the US is conducting secret negotiations with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar.