PESHAWAR, Dec 11: Pakistan and Afghanistan should take serious steps for strengthening economic and cultural relations in order to overcome regional tensions.

These views were expressed by resource persons while speaking on the second day of ‘Pak-Afghan Journalists Conference’ at Area Study Centre of Peshawar University on Tuesday.

Awami National Party, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, president Senator Afrasiab Khattak said that the entire region was in grip of terrorism, but terrorists could not bring any change through suicide bombings. They (terrorists) are taking lives of innocent people and destroying infrastructure for no reason, he added.

Referring to the policies of former Taliban government, he said that they had changed everything, including Afghanistan’s flag, jigra system and destroyed culture, which had blocked foreign investment in the region.

Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said, had similar traditions, culture and values, and they could improve them if peace was restored on sustainable basis. He said that instead of geo-strategic polices these states should focus on framing geo-economic polices to overcome financial problems.

Mr Khattak said that media could bring a positive change by reflecting real issues to help improve relations between the two countries. He said that the situation in Afghanistan had changed now as all the neighboring countries, including Iran, India, China and Turkey, had shown interest in the worn-torn country.

He said that Pakistan always wished Afghanistan to be a developed and prosperous country. Besides, Afghan people are fast realising the importance of education and democracy, he added.

The ANP leader said that the key players should play role in restoration of peace in Afghanistan and focus on dialogue at local and regional levels. He said that it was good luck of the country that there was no ideological polarisation.

Mr Khattak said that peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan was interlinked. Answering questions of the participants, the ANP leader said that his party respected sovereignty of Afghanistan and still supported the slogan that Pakhtuns living in all parts were like a single body.

Prof Ijaz Khattak said that importance of Durand Line was fast decreasing as no one could impose ban on movement of people and that was why relations between the people of both countries were increasing. He opposed foreign intervention in Afghanistan and said that imposing ideas on others was wrong.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s vice-president Usman Bashir Bilour highlighted significance of Pak-Afghan trade relations and urged investors to take interest in the business of fresh fruits, dry fruits and seasonal produce. He stressed the need for confidence-building measures to boost trade, adding that peace was a must for the purpose.

Prof Sarfaraz Khan urged the media to work for restoration of peace in the region.

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