Pakistan to cooperate with Afghanistan ‘regardless of who is in power’
Addressing the opening ceremony of a two-day trade seminar between Afghanistan and Pakistan in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said his country would cooperate and strengthen ties with Kabul regardless of who takes office.
Khan said it is “the Afghan people’s prerogative to elect officials and choose the government.”
Noting that Afghanistan had been at war for 40 years, he said that Pakistan had been negatively affected by this “especially in the last 18 years”.
“The past serves only one purpose: to teach us,” he said. “Those who are stuck in the past ruin their future.”
“Pakistan has learned from history that no foreign force can influence the narrative in Afghanistan.
“Afghans make their own decisions. Outside interference is never successful,” he said.
Raising the issue of India, he said 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.
“So there is a fear in Pakistan that India will use Afghanistan to destabilize 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.”
Khan went on to say that the region’s future depended on strong trade ties between the two countries and that “economic revival will bring employment. We need to focus on wealth creation by allowing industries and backing the business community.”
He said Afghanistan was Pakistan’s “natural partner” and that he had directed his Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood to discuss matters of mutual cooperation with the visiting delegates and chambers from Afghanistan who are attending the ‘Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum 2020 seminar.
He stressed that restoration of peace in Afghanistan was not just beneficial to Afghans but to Pakistanis as well, especially those living in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
According to him the Pakistan government’s “priority has been to push for dialogue. We first brokered talks between Taliban and the United States government and now with the Afghan government.”
“Our government, armed and intelligence forces are trying their best to ensure peace returns to the war-torn country,” he said, adding that he envisioned Central Asia as being similar to Europe with friendly borders.
According to the National Assembly Secretariat, which has organized the seminar, lawmakers, ministers, and businessmen from the two countries are attending the seminar.
Thematic sessions of the seminar will focus on Pakistan-Afghanistan transit trade, and investment opportunities in sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, food, and livestock.