ISLAMABAD -Reiterating their commitment to joint efforts against terrorism and radicalism, Pakistan and Afghanistan Saturday expressed their commitment for an 'indigenous Afghan-led process of reconciliation for sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Addressing a joint press conference after witnessing the signing of 23-point 'Islamabad Declaration here at PMs House, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed their resolve to work closely for reconciliation and peace. The two leaders earlier held a one-on-one meeting and delegation-level talks that focused on the transition phase after the start of withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan from July. They also inaugurated the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace, which was also attended by Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, Chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council. Terming the talks as useful and constructive, Gilani said the dialogue focused on host of issues, including stability, peace, prosperity and development in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the whole region. We discussed the common challenges as well as the opportunities. We agreed that there was no substitute to mutual cooperation if these challenges were to be overcome, he said. Gilani said it was high time for Pakistan and Afghanistan to make joint efforts to counter terrorism and radicalism. Terrorism and militancy have held progress of our two countries hostage for years. President Karzai said Afghanistan and Pakistan have taken many steps forward in their tremendous efforts for regional peace. He hoped that the Pak-Afghan Joint Commission would prove a milestone in achieving the goals of peace in both the countries. He said the sub-committee of the Commission would meet monthly while its plenary session would take place in October. Gilani said Pakistan fully supported the efforts of Afghan High Peace Council and its chairman for promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. On cross-border attacks by Afghan militants at checkposts in Dir and Bajaur, Mr Karzai termed them a worrying sign. Both the countries needed to work together to eliminate the radicals and their sanctuaries, he said, adding: Such incidents are reminder for us that things have gone beyond tolerance. However, it was the duty of both Pakistan and Afghan governments to take action to control radicalism. Mr Gilani said Pakistan would help carry forward the Afghan-led reconciliation process and Afghanistan could count on Pakistans support to that effect. He said frequent interaction between Pakistan and Afghanistan at various levels was a hallmark of bilateral relations. He said in todays talks, they also agreed to translate the potential into concrete projects in many areas including trade, economy, investment, connectivity, energy, infrastructure and people-to-people contacts. He said some projects were identified during the talks i.e. Peshawar-Jalalabad-Herat Expressway, rail link between Peshawar and Jalalabad and hydroelectric power generation and transmission. Earlier, Pakistan and Afghanistan signed 23-point 'Islamabad Declaration following the bilateral meeting between the two sides. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and his Afghan counterpart Dr. Zalmai Rassoul inked the declaration in the presence of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and President Hamid Karzai. As per the declaration, both the countries agreed to bring qualitative improvement in bilateral relations, boost trade, commerce, energy, connectivity, infrastructure development and people-to-people contacts besides reaffirming their resolve to work together to eliminate menace of terrorism. Through this Islamabad Declaration both the countries enhanced connectivity and infrastructure development; initiate cooperation in the sectors of energy, mines and minerals; and significantly enhance cultural, parliamentary, student, youth and people-to-people contacts. Both sides agreed to initiate consultations with other interested states to establish trade transit and facilitation mechanisms/arrangements, which would enable their Central Asian neighbours to use overland routes through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the world. Both sides also agreed to promote cooperation in the financial and banking sectors and, in particular, initiate consultations for the establishment of a Joint Investment Company for undertaking joint development projects in both countries. Pakistan and Afghanistan also agreed to establish Special Economic and Industrial Zones, and to work together for the speedy realization of the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones, including securing greater market access. It was noted that the Torkham-Jalalabad Expressway was nearing completion and agreed that necessary steps will be taken to jointly expand this Expressway to Herat through central Afghanistan. It was agreed that steps will be initiated to establish a rail link between Peshawar and Jalalabad, which should then connect to Afghanistans north-south and east-west rail network. Both sides attached considerable importance to the early finalization of the process for establishment of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, and to the speedy implementation of the CASA-1000 power transmission line. Both sides agreed to commence consultations for developing a framework for cooperation in hydro-electric power generation and transmission projects for mutual benefit. In this context, framework agreements for cooperation will be developed between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Both sides agreed to form a Joint Commission with appropriate representation to address the prisoners issue. Pakistan and Afghanistan expressed satisfaction on the implementation of the 2,000 scholarships scheme offered by Pakistan for Afghan students, out of which 900 Afghan students have already availed themselves of the facilities in education in specialized disciplines such as medicine and engineering. Meanwhile, Pakistan and Afghanistan on Saturday agreed to a number of proposals to check illegal cross border movement that include setting up of a joint task force and making functional of the bio-metric system within three weeks on Pak-Afghan border. Rehman Malik and his Afghan counterpart Lt. Gen Bismillah Khan Muhammadi told a joint press conference that both the countries also weighed options to give visa exemptions to diplomats of both the countries. Both the interior ministers said the meeting agreed on biometric system to maintain the record of visitors and for their identification would be made functional on the Pak-Afghan border within three weeks. They said that both the countries had agreed on the better arrangements of intelligence sharing. Afghan Interior Minister also welcomed the statement of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman about talks of Afghan Peace Commission with Taliban. Maqbool Malik adds: Pakistan and Afghanistan on Saturday held the first meeting of a joint peace commission, declaring to fight terrorism with reaffirmed resolve to work closely together for reconciliation and peace, in holistic and comprehensive manner. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani led their respective delegations to the meeting and vowed to hold next meeting of the commission in Kabul. A joint statement issued by Foreign Office said both sides emphasised the importance of continued close cooperation, consultation and coordination on peace in Afghanistan with primary focus on realising the goal of a peaceful and prosperous region free of terrorism and militancy. The statement said both sides agreed to intensify intelligence-to-intelligence and military-to-military cooperation and to hold separate military and intelligence meetings whenever required. It said both the countries expressed their commitment to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan and called upon all of Afghanistans partners in the international community to support such a process. Pakistani side strongly reiterated its principled support for Afghanistans sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity, as well as for adherence by the international community and Afghanistans neighbours to the principles of non-interference and non-intervention. Expressing satisfaction on the establishment of the Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace in Afghanistan, both sides agreed that the Afghan High Peace Council would act as the secretariat for the joint commission. The Pakistani side expressed its full support for the efforts of the Afghan High Peace Council and its Chairman Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani for promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and assured Pakistans fullest cooperation and support to the councils efforts. Both sides mandated their senior officials to meet as soon as possible to work out joint measures required to meet the above objectives, and agreed to maintain constant contact through their respective ambassadors. Those who participated in the meeting from Afghan side included: Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani, Chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council, Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul, Chief of the Afghan Army General Karimi, Director General National Directorate of Security Rehmatullah Nabeel, Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin and ambassador Mohammad Umer Daudzai. While Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, ISI Director General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and ambassador Mohammad Sadiq participated in the meeting from the Pakistani side.