Afghanistan supports unofficial dialogue with Pakistan

Islamabad, Nov 9 (IANS) Afghanistan’s Ambassador in Islamabad Janan Mosazai on Monday backed an initiative of unofficial dialogue with Pakistan, saying leaders and people can find out solution to problems when they sit down and talk.

Mosazai and several Western diplomats joined members of the civil society from Afghanistan and Pakistan who opened a two-day dialogue at a time when tensions have affected official contacts.

An Afghan and a Pakistani research centres have launched the “Pakistan-Afghanistan Track 1.5/II project Beyond Boundaries” as part of its efforts to help improve relations between the two neighbours.

“When leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan, when government officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan and when the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan sit down in the same room and have frank and candid and open conversation, we can find solutions, we can outline constructive, positive strategies, we can come to specific decision points on improving our relations,” Mosazai told the media.

The initiative was launched by Pakistan’s Centre of Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in partnership with its Afghan counterpart DURAN Research and Analysis (DRA).

“We believe that the civil society in Pakistan, the civil society in Afghanistan can become extremely substantial, extremely important stakeholders in the state-to-state and in the country-to-country cooperation and ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the Afghan envoy said.

Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir told the participants that it was Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s strong desire to end the years of mutual hostility between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We had to reckon with this that there did exist mistrust and hostility and there was a need to steer the stakeholders toward negotiations.”

“It is critically important to bring together media people from both the countries to help improve the perceptions on each other,” the minister said.

British High Commissioner to Pakistan Phillip Barton welcomed Pakistan’s initiative to broker peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

He also appreciated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s move to reach out to Pakistan shortly after he had assumed office.

“Healthy relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are vital for stability, security and prosperity of the two countries, the region and the world. Peace processes are never easy, but in the end, dialogue is the only route to peace,” said the high commissioner.

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