A two-day seminar for exploring opportunities to boost investment and trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan began in Islamabad on Monday.
On the invitation of National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, a 17-member Afghan parliamentary delegation, led by Speaker of Wolsey Jirga Mr Rahmani, arrived in Islamabad to participate in the seminar, titled Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum 2020.
Speaking at the inauguration, Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was the chief guest, said that Pakistan has also suffered due to the 40-year conflict in Afghanistan.
"After Afghanistan, Pakistan has suffered the most due to the conflict," he said. The past, he said, only has one purpose: people should only learn from it and not live in it.
"What history has shown us is that foreign interference has never been successful in Afghanistan; the people need to make their own decisions," he said, adding that the people will decide who will be elected. "Pakistan will work with the Afghanistan government and will keep the relationship strong."
The prime minister also commented on neighbour India, saying that there has never been a more "Muslim-hating" government in power in 72 years.
"We tried very hard to befriend them [...] I had many friendships [in India] because of cricket. But at one point, I understood that there was no point as they were against us ideologically," he said, adding that what is currently happening with the Muslims in the neighbouring country has never happened before.
"So there is a fear in Pakistan that India will use Afghanistan to destabilise the country. But we have decided that we will back the wishes of the people of Afghanistan because the future of this region lies in the relationship and cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan."
The premier concluded his address by saying that trade was the only way to bring prosperity to both the countries.
According to a handout by the National Assembly Secretariat, lawmakers, ministers and businessmen from the two countries will attend the two-day seminar. USAID Pakistan has also extended support to the National Assembly Secretariat for organising the seminar under its regional connectivity and integration initiative.
Thematic sessions of the seminar will discuss Pakistan-Afghanistan transit trade, and investment opportunities in sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, food and livestock.
“The seminar is unique and historic keeping in view the government’s vibrant policies aimed at promoting regional connectivity and creating an environment of shared development and prosperity,” the handout said.