Trilateral dialogue: Regional cooperation vital for peace, development

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ISLAMABAD: Diplomats and academics were of the unanimous view that the destiny of the South Asian states are interlinked and called for stronger economic, cultural, security and societal relations between them.

They saw great opportunities for Pakistan, Afghanistan after the post-2014 drawdown and expressed the desire to strengthen relations between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.

Afghan Ambassador spelt out major objectives of the new national government in Kabul.

“The new government in Afghanistan will focus on three policy objectives — transforming Afghanistan from a failed state to a functioning democracy; broadening relations with countries in the region and working with its neighbours in strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations,” Ambassador Janan Musazai said.

Addressing a conference, Musazai said Afghanistan and Pakistan were friends and partners connected through inseparable bonds of culture, ethnic and religious commonalities.

He added that the new government in Afghanistan is an opportunity for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to redefine their bilateral relations, improve trust, and increase security, peace, economic cooperation and trade between the two countries.

The two-day conference on “China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Dialogue”, was being organised by Pak-China Institute in collaboration with Konard Adenauer Stiftung, a German security foundation.

“Cooperation among China, Afghanistan and Pakistan will benefit the region as a whole and should be strengthened,” said Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong while addressing the conference.  “Building mutual trust and friendly consultations among countries should be encouraged to promote regional cooperation”, he added. “It is a unique opportunity for us to extend cooperation and stand against common threats and challenges together and attain common goal of security, stability and prosperity”, said the Afghan ambassador.

“China is also ready to extend cooperation in this regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan to help tackle the confronting issues in an effective way”, the ambassador said.

The Chinese diplomat said that he believes that national reconciliation is inevitable for Afghanistan to achieve its objectives. China is Afghanistan’s traditional friendly neighbour and respects its independence and territorial integrity.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Senator Mushahid Hussain stated that the destinies of the countries were ‘interlinked’, adding with Nato and the United States receding from the region, the destinies of Asia should be decided by Asians.

Eminent scholar and political analyst Dr Hasan Askari-Rizvi observed that there is greater potential for increasing cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “They cannot function in isolation”, Prof Rizvi emphasised, highlighting the need to develop economic and societal linkages, which according to him were very strong between both the countries.

Representing the Nato perspective, Director School of Politics and International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal highlighted the emerging opportunity for both Afghanistan and Pakistan once US presence is significantly reduced in the region post 2014.

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