ISI chief, Afghan president agree to boost anti-terror cooperation


ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar meets Afghan President Ghani, both sides discuss ways to further strengthen joint efforts against terrorism, extremism

Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul on Sunday and discussed ways to boost anti-terror cooperation as well as peace and security in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region, among other matters.

According to a statement issued by the Afghan Presidential Palace, the Afghan president received ISI chief Lt Gen Akhtar in his office on Sunday and “both sides discussed ways to further strengthen joint efforts against terrorism and extremism.”

A Pakistani security official reportedly confirmed the visit but refused to comment on the nature of the meeting saying, “The Afghan statement is enough and we will not add anything more.”

This is Lt Gen Akhtar’s third visit to Afghanistan since he assumed office in November 2014. He first travelled to Kabul just after taking charge as ISI chief. Later, he accompanied Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif during a visit to Kabul in wake of the PeshawarArmyPublic School attack in December.

Pakistani and Afghan security officials have increased contacts after Ghani assumed the Afghan president office in September.

In December 2014, General Raheel and his Afghan counterpart General Sher Muhammad Karimi agreed that their commanders would begin meetings immediately to further coordinate cross-border security operations.

In a sign of growing military cooperation, Islamabad and Kabul reached an understanding to “reactivate” border control centres to coordinate operations against militants. Two AfPak Border Coordination Centres will be revived at the border points of Torkham and Spin Boldak, officials and Afghan sources say.

Military commanders of the two countries have reportedly increased interaction in recent weeks.

Moreover, the Afghan president’s visit to army headquarters in Rawalpindi in November was seen as an important step to enhance security cooperation.

In addition, Kabul has also ended its traditional blame game that was common during the 13-year rule of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

The massacre of 150 people by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) gunmen at APS Peshawar paved the way for closer cooperation between the two uneasy neighbours to counter the militant threat on both sides of the nearly 2,500 kilometre border.

The Afghan president met the ISI chief just two days after he received senior Pakistani Pashtoon political leaders who were amongst the first batch of Pakistani leaders to visit Afghanistan following Ghani’s invitation to Pakistani leaders to visit Afghanistan for discussing matters of mutual concern.