Pakistan keen to cement ties with Kabul: PM


It was the Afghan people’s prerogative to elect officials and choose the government, the prime minister noted

Naveed Miraj

ISLAMABAD: PM Imran Khan on Monday said Pakistan would cooperate and strengthen ties with Kabul regardless of who takes the office.

“It was the Afghan people’s prerogative to elect officials and choose the government, the prime minister noted.

Addressing the two-day ‘Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum 2020’ seminar in Islamabad, Imran said Afghanistan was part of the Mughal empire. “The nomads would travel from Central Asia to India and back for economic activities. Even the official language of the Mughal court was Farsi.”

PM Imran regretted the 40-year-old conflict in Afghanistan and stressed that Pakistan was the second-most affected country “especially in the last 18 years”.

“The past serves only one purpose: to teach us,” he reflected. “Those who are stuck in the past ruin their future.”

The premier said it was time to analyse the gains and losses of the past. “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.”

Speaking of the past, the prime minister lamented Narendra Modi administration in India. “Never has India seen a government so anti-Muslim. The RSS propagate ethnic cleansing of Muslim.”

“I know India the best,” he continued. “Because of cricket, I have many ties and friendships there so I tried a lot in the beginning until I realized the ideological differences.”

“But we will keep trying,” he said, adding that the current hateful campaign against Muslims was unprecedented in India. “Over eight million Kashmiris remain in an open jail.”

“So, we are suspicious of New Delhi using Afghan soil to design terrorist activities to destablise Pakistan,” said Imran. “Yet, we have decided to accept and cooperate with whoever Afghan people bring to power.”

The premier stressed that the region’s future depended on trade ties between the two states. “Economic revival will bring employment. We need to focus on wealth creation by allowing industries and backing business community.”

 “Afghanistan is our natural partner,” said Imran, adding that he had directed Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood to discuss matters of mutual cooperation with the visiting delegates and chambers from Afghanistan.

He stressed that restoration of peace in the neighbouring country was not just beneficial to Afghans but to Pakistanis as well specially Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which was hit the most by the wave of terrorism.

The prime minister said no country in the world was trying as hard as Pakistan to restore peace in Afghanistan. “My 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,” said the premier, adding that he envisioned Central Asia similar to Europe with friendly borders.