ISLAMABAD: Syed Farukh Shah Faryabi Jenab, who is heading an Afghan parliamentary delegation, said on Wednesday that the release of Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar would be meaningless if he was unable to play a role in the peace process.
“We are not seeking Mullah Baradar’s handing over to Afghanistan, but he should be freed in real terms to make the initiative purposeful,” he said at a press conference at the end of the ninth round of Pakistan-Afghanistan parliamentary dialogue in Islamabad.
The dialogue, facilitated by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, takes place alternatively in Islamabad and Kabul.
Syed Jenab, who is Secretary of the Meshrano Jirga (Afghan Senate), said the presence of US combat forces in Afghanistan after the pullout of Nato troops in 2014 should not be a cause of concern for Pakistan. As a sovereign country, he said, Afghanistan had the right to develop relations with any country. “But the principle remains that the Afghan soil would not be used against any other country.”
Talking to Dawn he said US troops would remain in Afghanistan under some agreement but in no way that would harm the interests of Pakistan.
He said Afghanistan’s relations with India should also not worry Pakistan. He rejected a perception that India had more consulates in Afghanistan than in the US and UK put together and these would be used for activities against Pakistan.
According to him, the number of Indian consulates in Afghanistan has remained unchanged since the days of King Zahir Shah, adding that Pakistan and India have almost the same number of consulates in his country.
Syed Jenab said Pakistan and Afghanistan needed to fight together the menace of terrorism and extremism as they faced similar challenges.
He and Senator Afrasiab Khattak, who led the Pakistani side in the dialogue, read out a joint statement.
It said the participants underlined the need for more active cooperation for thwarting the nefarious designs of terrorist groups active in border areas. They agreed that the terrorist groups were attacking innocent citizens on both sides of the border and creating misunderstanding between the two countries.
“Experience has proved that this challenge can only be met through honest cooperation between security institutions of the two countries.”
Afghan parliamentarians observed that strengthening of democratic forces in Pakistan was a positive factor for promoting peace and stability in the region. They expressed the hope that the coming presidential and parliamentary elections in Afghanistan would strengthen democracy in their country.
The participants were of the considered view that strength of the process of peace and democracy was interlinked.
They said that although policy decisions were taken by the executive, parliaments in the two countries needed to play an important role by making proposals to the governments to improve relations and overseeing the governments’ policies in this direction.