ISLAMABAD: Returning from a two-day official visit to Afghanistan, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq on Monday said the Afghan leadership and the people of the country had shown the utmost respect to the delegation of Pakistani lawmakers.
Sadiq had visited Afghanistan on the invitation of the Afghan president with an aim to ease the tensions between the neighbouring states. He led an unprecedented 15-member parliamentary delegation of top leaders from both houses of Parliament.
“Our dialogue proceeded in a pleasant environment. They provided us with every comfort and gave us the respect that is given not only to a neighbouring country, but to a brother,” the speaker told reporters in Islamabad.
Sadiq also said he held a frank, “heart-to-heart” meeting for over five hours with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“We saw that the desire among the Afghan leadership, elected members of parliament and the Afghan people was for better relations and nothing else,” the speaker added.
He said the leadership in Afghanistan was also informed that the visiting delegation was representing all of Pakistan — the government, the opposition and the people of the country — and that Pakistan’s “desire is to restart the process of meetings that had been halted”.
“We are more than just neighbours and brothers … if there is peace in Afghanistan, there will be peace in Pakistan,” Sadiq said.
The speaker said the Afghan leadership had “promised” that former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah will soon visit Pakistan “and the process [of dialogue] that has been broken will be restarted”.
Sadiq said a written message by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also delivered in which the premier expressed his condolences over the loss of lives in a terrorist attack on a base in Mazar-e-Sharif in which close to 200 soldiers were killed.
In his message, the prime minister also promised co-operation and intelligence sharing between the two countries.
“We [the delegation] went there for a new start, for better relations,” the speaker said.
During the meeting, Ghani stressed the need for the coexistence of a stable Pakistan with a stable Afghanistan, Dawn reported.
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.
Ghani stressed a “five principles” approach, comprising a prime focus on state-to-state relations instead of seeking peace with individual groups; honouring each other’s sovereignty; ensuring that either’s territory is not used against the other; agreement on a common definition of terrorism; and the opening up of transit routes.
The parliamentary leaders’ visit came two days after a top-level Army delegation visited Kabul and held negotiations with the Afghan officials on various issues relating to security.
Inter-Services Public Relations in a statement issued after the day-long visit of the army delegation, led by Chief of the General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar, said “terrorists are [a] common threat and shall be defeated”.
The resolve was ‘conveyed’ to Afghanistan’s acting Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bahramee and Afghan Chief of Army Staff Gen Mohammad Sharif Yaftali. -DN