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ISLAMABAD: Afghan political leader, human rights activist and businesswoman Hasina Syed, on Wednesday, urged both Pakistan and Afghanistan to maintain cooperative neighbourly relations for enhanced bilateral trade, while keeping an open eye on the “spoilers” creating distrust between the two countries. In a media interaction after the conclusion of Pakistan-Afghanistan track-II bilateral dialogue at the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS), she said that today’s Afghanistan is not the Afghanistan of the past.

“It [Afghanistan] has changed now and the Taliban are becoming part of development,” she said, while citing her interactions with the Taliban.

She said that peace is essential not only for Afghanistan’s economic development but also for the regional stability and economic prosperity.

“If there is development at the economic level, then extremism will ultimately come to the lowest,” she said, adding that Pakistan has contributed “immensely” to the peace process.

“There are anti-peace elements in Afghanistan and not in good number, they need to be discouraged. The relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan is very strong, important, and historical,” she said, adding that the two nations can never be separated.

The Afghan woman political leader and human rights activist also expressed satisfaction over the participation of women in Afghanistan’s political system as well as in the ongoing peace process with the Taliban, adding that more effective role can also be given to women to play in the future political set up as a result of the reconciliation process.

She further stated that the role of women and youth is very important in the development of Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan is not the Afghanistan of the past, today’s Afghanistan has changed where women are equally playing their role in rebuilding the nation and its institutions,” she maintained.

She said that children of Taliban are going to schools and their mentality is also changing.

“People [Taliban] living in the mountains are also now having a changed perception and they are using technology to work on mineral deposits from the mountains instead of using the weapons,” she maintained. Syed said that Afghanistan’s economic development was essential for lasting peace, adding that good cooperative economic and trade relations are very important between the two countries for mutual benefits.

“Pakistan is important for Afghanistan and Afghanistan is important for Pakistan,” she said, adding that bilateral relations between the two countries are not dependent on any third country.

To a question, she supported fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, saying that it would help contribute to removing the trust deficit and put an end to the blame game.

Responding to another query about India’s intervention in Afghanistan, she said that Afghanistan should be a neutral country, having relations with all the countries and free of influence by any third country.

She pointed out that Afghanistan has been victim of a long war and things will take time to change.

She added that a future interim government should include neutral political leaders and parties, and that there should be a dialogue between all parties on the Afghan constitution and the nature of democracy. “We must move forward with the help and cooperation of the Loya Jirga,” she said, adding the highest representative forum could be used to resolve challenges such as future political set up and the country’s constitution. She also stated that Hazara community of Afghanistan has a key role to play in the development and prosperity of the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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