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Seminar explores way forward for Afghanistan, Pakistan ties

By Ikram Junaidi 2018-10-05
ISLAMABAD: Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are haunted by a trust deñcit and a practice of interfering in each others` affairs, participants of a seminar said on Thursday.

A seminar on `Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations: Exploring the Way Forward` was organised by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (Pips) in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Speaking at the event, Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal said a number of positive developments had been seen this year and suggested both countries remain optimistic about more developments for friendly ties.

`However, it is a fact that mistrust continues between the two countries and there is a perception that intentions are not positive. We are too much stuck in the past. We should interact with each other and also with ourselves to know what we are doing wrong,` he said.

Retired Lt Gen Hamid Khan, who served as the Peshawar corps commander, said he had always wondered if PakAfghan relations were bilateral or defined by a great game.

`Terrorist leaders are harboured in Afghanistan, and an attempted attack on me was also planned in the neighbouring country. Though Afghanistan says that Pakistan uses it as strategic depth, it is a fact that Afghanistan used Pakistan as strategic depth when the USSR invaded Afghanistan, he said.

He said neither country should allow their soil to be used against each other. He suggested more legal crossing points and joint operations against the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Dr Qibla Ayaz, the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, said religious scholars could bring the two countries close to each other and bring peace as both countries have the same religion, customs and traditions.

Former diplomat Aziz Ahmed Khan said the relationship had seen many ups and downs.

While discussing Prime Minister ImranKhan`s announcement of citizenship for Afghans and Bengalis, he said they should be given some kind of residential status to bring them under the law.

Journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai said Afghanistan and Pakistan need to interact bilaterally rather than through some other country.

`The media should be allowed to work in both countries.

Newspapers should be shared across the border and electronic media can be given landing rights in both countries to overcome mistrust,` he said.

Human rights activist Marvi Sirmed said women have suffered the most when relations deteriorate. She also criticised the negligible presence of women in the PakistanAfghanistan Plan of Action and called for their inclusion in any framework that seeks solutions.