Pakistan-Afgan mini jirga begins

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Islamabad, Oct 27 (UNI) Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi today vowed to fight menace of extremism and terrorism with the cooperation of neighbourly countries including Afghanistan.

He was addressing the inaugural session of two-day mini-jirga or elders' assembly that began here. The event was also attended by the officials and delegates from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Officials and tribal leaders from the two countreies have gathered here to find ways to end mounting violence along their troubled border.

The two-day meeting has been dubbed ''mini-jirga'' as it is a smaller follow-up to the traditional ''jirga'' or tribal meeting held between the two neighbours in August 2007.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said, ''both Afghanistan and Pakistan are faced with terrorism and together they need to face the challenge.'' The meeting features 50 members -- 25 from each side -- including government officials, representatives of political parties and members of the ethnic Pashtun tribes that straddle the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Afghanistan's delegation was led by former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah while Pakistan's delegation was led by NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani.

Mr Qureshi said the mini-jirga would be instrumental in shaping up the ways to tackle rising militant violence.

He said Pakistan had been engaged with Afghanistan in the dialogue process, so that there could be strict action against the extremist and terrorist elements.

He said due to the negligence of the international community after the withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan in 1979, both countries faced hardship.

The Foreign Minister said with the adoption of an unanimous resolution by the joint sitting of the parliament, Pakistan would take more effective measures to tackle the menace of terrorism.

He said Pakistan would not allow anyone to use its soil against Afghanistan and ensured that necessary measures were being taken to eliminate the extremism and terrorism from Pakistan.

Mr Abdullah speaking on the occasion appreciated the efforts of Islamabad for holding the jirga.

He said presence of representatives from across different sections of both countries would be helpful in taking a joint action against the terrorists and eliminate the extremist elements from the region.

Governor NWFP Owais Ghani appreciated the holding of the jirga and said it would help the two sides remove misunderstandings and have greater coordination in tackling the threats the region was facing.

UNI XC ARB GC1544

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