PESHAWAR: Instead of relying on governments, people-to-people contact at different levels should be developed to build trust and cement bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, said Afghan Counsel General Mohammad Moeen Mrastyaal.
He was speaking at a discussion held in University of Peshawar on Thursday. The in-house discussion on the status of Pak-Afghan relations and way forward was organised by the Areas Study Centre of University of Peshawar.
The heads of various departments and scholars took part in the discussion.
The Afghan counsel general, who has taken charge of his post just three months ago, said that in presence of international forces and challenges there was need on both sides at different non-governmental levels for the civil society to meet and build friendly relations as well as initiate economic activities that could build stronger relations, forcing governments to sit and discuss way forward too.
Afghan envoy says instead of relying on govts, residents of both countries should build friendly relations
“It is not our war. It is war of powerful countries that have come to Afghanistan. We, both Pakistan and Afghanistan, are victims of war,” said Mr Mrastyaal.
He said that youth, parliamentarians, academicians and non-governmental organisations of both the countries should meet and build relations instead of relying on the governments.
About his efforts to resolve problems of Afghan refugees, Mr Mrastyaal said that Afghan Consulate was working on a survey about out of school girls at the refugee camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to support them in getting education.
He said that he had sought support of the first lady of Afghanistan to help some 20,000 Afghan women and girls and also help in getting 5,000 scholarships for out of school girls.
Other participants of the discussion said that Afghanistan was a sovereign country and Pakistan should respect it. “Both countries despite having a fence could mend their relations if the people on both sides join hands for economic, trade and social exchanges,” they added.
The participants said that current status of Pak-Afghan relations in bilateral, regional and global context was at the lowest ebb.
They said that Pakistan perceived bilateral relations with Afghanistan in the context of Pak-US and Pak-India relations, withstanding American and Indian presence in Afghanistan.
They said that Pakistan should look upon Afghanistan as a sovereign country having freedom to develop ties with other countries and work more on building trust and strong bilateral relations with Afghanistan itself.