2016 worst year for bilateral relations: Both Pakistan and Afghanistan should learn from the past mistakes: Zakhilwal

ZAKHILWALISLAMABAD: The Afghan ambassador has called for a tension-free relationship between Kabul and Islamabad, saying both sides should learn from past mistakes to normalise their ties.

“There had been a lot of mistakes over the past one year and both have learnt a lot,” Dr. Omar Zakhilwal said in an interview published on Monday. He called 2016 the worst year for bilateral relations.

Zakhilwal rejected the impression that President Ashraf Ghani had turned down Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s invitation to visit Pakistan. A recent media report said Ghani had spurned the invitation delivered by the Pakistani spymaster.

“I confirm Pakistan National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq’s statement that Ghani has not rejected the invitation to visit Pakistan,” the diplomat was quoted as saying by Daily Times.

“Instead, he rightly responded that the last visit by a leader to each other’s capital was made by him in Dec 2015. It, therefore, was the Pakistan Prime Minister’s turn to visit Kabul and that he would visit next,” he added.

In response to a query, the ambassador hoped the Chaman border crossing would reopen soon. However, he noted the ability of both sides to stop the shelling across the Durand Line as a result of 15-minute talks.

“It did not escalate and lives were saved on both sides, We are moving in the right direction,” remarked the envoy, who believed the Durand Line closure harmed trade and movement of people.

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