By Shumaila Andleeb
ISLAMABAD -President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani is clear about the region’s stability and prosperity – to partner with Pakistan in reduction of poverty and achieving mutual sovereignty.
“You become our partners in peace and the rest of the agenda will fall into place”, Ghani said during his two-day visit to Pakistan in late June.
Ghani shared his mind with the audience at a Public Talk organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) under its Distinguished Lecture Series. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood were also in attendance.
Members of the diplomatic corps in Islamabad, academics, civil society, and former and current diplomats were also present.
“Knowledge of each other and knowing how we complement each other is important for bilateral relations. In order to move forward, we need to adhere to a good strategy which requires three things: clarity of vision, an analysis of the conditions of today, honestly, carefully and systemically, and development,” Ghani said, who arrived here on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Calling for making the history by overcoming the past, he said two items were crucial for the Afghan government including the normalization of relations with Pakistan, and to find a political solution to the conflict in and around Afghanistan.
President Ghani talked about the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), calling it a breakthrough project, for which financing had been secured, and work would begin in Afghanistan soon.
He pointed that the ports of Gwadar and Karachi could become the choice of Central Asian firms. The existing system of railways is sufficient for this, he pointed out.
Private investment, grants, loans and bonds and joint budgetary commitments are important and task forces at both the leadership and administrative levels should be in place.
During his remarks, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that President Ghani’s visit to Pakistan came at a very crucial time in Pakistan.
He said the future of both countries was interlinked as were the challenges they both faced. The leadership of both sides had a responsibility for the betterment of their people.
“We cannot achieve what we want to achieve unless there is peace. To achieve peace we need each other… We in Pakistan are very clear in our objective -we see our betterment in a peaceful stable Afghanistan,” he said.
Qureshi said Pakistan would do all it could do to encourage the peace process and facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue which was essential.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry spoke about the work being done by ISSI in the fields of security and foreign policy.
He said that the Institute also had established linkages with similar institutions around the world and hoped that the think tanks in Afghanistan would find it convenient to establish linkages with ISSI.
While concluding the talk, Chairman BOG ISSI, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood said that bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan were making progress, and the peace process was moving forward.