ISLAMABAD: In a frank, “heart-to-heart” meeting spanning over five hours, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has told National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq that time for peace in the region is running short.
The speaker was on an official visit to Afghanistan on the invitation of the Afghan president with an aim to lower the tensions between the neighbouring states. He was leading an unprecedented 15-member parliamentary delegation of top leaders from both houses of parliament.
According to a message received from Kabul on Sunday, President Ghani, in an analysis of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, put on the table his country’s grievances and called for a mechanism to resolve all differences.
Sadiq says Pakistan wants relations on equal footing
In an academic tone, he talked about the ‘5th wave of terrorism’ around the world and the impact of trans-national terrorism on countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He warned that if the two states failed to address the challenges now, the consequences could be disastrous for both countries.
The Afghan president stressed the need for coexistence of a stable Pakistan alongside a stable Afghanistan. He acknowledged the contributions of Pakistan during the ‘Afghan jihad’ and thanked the people of the country for their generous hospitality for the Afghan refugees.
Mr Ghani stressed a “five principles” approach, comprising a prime focus on the state-to-state relations instead of seeking peace with individual groups, honouring each other’s sovereignty, ensuring no use of their territory against each other, agreement on a common definition of terrorism and opening up of transit trade.
Mr Sadiq made it clear to the Afghan president that Pakistan believed in harnessing good neighbourly relations on an equal footing.
“There is no big brother among us,” the speaker said.
He said the Pakistani delegation had come to Kabul with an open heart to usher in a new beginning in bilateral relations.
While agreeing with the Afghan president that there was not much time left, the speaker stressed the need to avoid the blame game and to work together for a mutually beneficial future.
Ayaz Sadiq shared with President Ghani his proposal of hosting a conference of the speakers of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and China to seek solutions to regional problems.
Every member of the Pakistani delegation referred to the centuries-old ties between the two nations and called for harnessing the innate goodwill for each other.
The parliamentary delegation includes Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq; federal ministers retired Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, Mir Hasil Bizenjo and Akram Khan Durrani; National Assembly’s Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sardar Awais Leghari; Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai; PPP parliamentary leader in National Assembly Syed Naveed Qamar; Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of the Awami National Party; Shafqat Mehmood of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf; the Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah; the Qaumi Watan Party’s Aftab Sherpao and G.G. Jamal from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2017