ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said on Monday that Pakistan and Afghanistan have very old ties and whatever government there is in Afghanistan, Pakistan will work with it to strengthen ties.
Addressing the Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum, the Prime Minister welcomed the delegation of the Afghan business community and said that our ties with the region and Afghanistan have been for centuries, Afghanistan was part of the Mughal Empire for almost 200 years. And present day Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were part of Durrani Empire in Afghanistan for 60-70 years.
He said that tribes used to leave Afghanistan and go to Calcutta for trade and before the beginning of Afghan jihad, they used to bring and take trade goods from Central Asia and India.
PM Imran Khan said “we are unfortunate that Afghanistan has been in turmoil for 40 years, after which Pakistan has suffered the most, especially in the last 18 years,”.
Imran Khan said that man does not live in the past but learns from it, now is the time for us to realize what we have lost and what we have gained in the past and learn from it.
He said that Afghanistan has a history that no external power can gain influence there but the people there make their own decisions, foreign intervention never succeeds there.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan has learned that whoever the people of Afghanistan want to elect is their own decision and whatever the government of Afghanistan will be, Pakistan will work with it and keep the relationship strong.
“Neighboring India is seven times bigger than us, we have had three wars with them and in 72 years there has not been a government that hates Muslims as much as the current government does,” he said.
“We tried hard to be friends with India but I realized it was useless because they are against us ideologically but we will continue to try,” he said.
PM Imran said that what is happening in India especially in occupied Kashmir has never happened in the history till date, 8 million people are being kept in an open jail so Pakistan fears that India, Afghanistan will spread chaos in our country and It will be used to destabilize but we have decided that whatever the people of Afghanistan want, we will support them because the future of the region lies in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, cooperation and trade.
The PM further said that the only solution to the devastation in our tribal areas and border areas as a result of 40 years of turmoil in Afghanistan is to have good relations, trade which can provide employment to the people.
“We are promoting trade in our country, Afghanistan is our natural partner and we are trying to increase trade relations with Afghanistan and as soon as peace comes in Afghanistan, it will benefit Pakistan as well as the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
“No other country is doing as much as Pakistan is doing for peace in Afghanistan because we want peace in Afghanistan so that the whole region is connected to Central Asia and trade grows,” Imran Khan said.
“I can assure you that ever since my government came, we have pushed hard for the Taliban to talk to the United States first, then with the Afghan government, and we are still trying to reduce the violence,” he added.
Expressing his desire, the Prime Minister said, “My dream is to have open borders for trade like the European Union and we pray that one day we will have such a relationship.”