Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah said on Tuesday that Pakistan and Afghanistan are at the threshold of a new era of bilateral relations based on mutual respect and shared prosperity. Abdullah, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, was speaking at a public talk organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), in which he talked about the negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar and bilateral relations. “Peace and prosperity in both Pakistan and Afghanistan are interdependent. There was a need to go beyond the rhetoric and the usual conspiracy theories, as one cannot afford to pursue dissolution,” the Afghan leader said. “We need to take into account the current geo-political shifts and draw necessary lessons about our gains, losses, threats and opportunities. We should aim to reduce tensions, promote moderation, increase regional connectivity, trade, transit, economic integration, business to business and more importantly, people to people interactions,” Abdullah insisted.He said the time is now for Pakistan and Afghanistan to define a new vision, address outstanding issues as well as shared interests of both and realize that peace and stability in Afghanistan or any country for that matter can have far reaching consequences and trickle effects. Regarding Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations, Abdullah said that both sides have discussed practical issues, concerns and common interests and will continue to do so in the future. He appreciated the important role Pakistan has played in the Afghan peace process and envisaged a peaceful future for the region.He welcomed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement about ending violence and working toward a ceasefire in Afghanistan. “The time is now to define a new vision, address outstanding issues as well as our shared interests and realize that peace and stability in Afghanistan or any country for that matter can have far reaching consequences and trickle effects,” Abdullah said. During his remarks, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated on the occasion that Pakistan considers Afghanistan as a friend and respects its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. “Pakistan considers Afghanistan a friend and we are not masters,” he said, while indicating a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s policies. He said Pakistan has no favourite in Afghanistan.Qureshi said that it is important that the leadership of Pakistan and Afghanistan engage and exchange views, frankly, honestly and in a candid manner. “There should be particular focus on how to steer the peace process forward. The timing of Dr. Abdullah’s visit is significant because it is taking place after a number of historic events. There is now a new international environment, which is supportive of a peace process.” Qureshi was of the view that a realisation has evolved over the years that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. This voice, though previously often not heard, has finally been heard. He further stated that today there is recognition that a negotiated political settlement is the only and best way forward. “Today, the reduction in violence leading to a ceasefire is a prerequisite for peace,” he said, adding that Afghans and only Afghans can determine the future of Afghanistan. He said the road ahead is going to be bumpy, however, all sides will have to work for it, as the name of the game is patience.Ambassador Sadiq, Special Representative for Afghanistan, stated that Dr Abdullah’s visit is taking place at a time when there is progress in both the peace process and Pak-Afghan bilateral relations. He stated that both these tracks are mutually inclusive.