By Iqbal Mustafa
ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said peace in Afghanistan was critical for the peace and security in Pakistan. He said Pakistan always supported Afghan President Hamid Karzai's peace efforts and would continue favour an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation.
In a meeting with delegation of Afghan Senators led by Fazal- e-Hadi Muslimyar at the PM House, the Prime Minister emphasized upon exchanging parliamentary delegations to strengthen their brotherly relations and between the peoples of the two countries. The Prime Minister said exchange visits of parliamentarians were essential to enhance bilateral relations and Pakistan had always made consistent and sincere efforts to improve relations with Afghanistan.
He recalled that Pakistan did extend full cooperation to the Afghan team that visited Islamabad with regard to the investigation of assassination of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani. The Prime Minister said Pakistan was committed to complete the construction of Torkham-Jalalabad Road.
He mentioned that Pakistan was offering 2,000 fully funded scholarships to the Afghan students and agreed to enhance the number of scholarships on the request of the leader of Afghan delegation.
Earlier, Chairman Senate Farooq H. Naik while addressing the members of the Afghan delegation said Pakistan attached much importance to its relations with Afghanistan because both the countries share common religion, culture, history and geographical proximity.
Leader of Afghan delegation Fazal-e-Hadi Muslimyar highlighted the commonalities between the people of two countries spread over the centuries, adding this had brought them together to strive for the common destiny of peace and prosperity.
He said that President Karzai himself came to Pakistan to attend the oath-taking ceremony of President Zardari which amply manifested the importance the Afghan people attached to Pakistan.
The members of the delegation included Musa Arefi, Deputy Head of Mission, Senator Lutfullah Baba, Senator Gul Ahmad Azimi, Senator Darakhail Mangal, Senator Arifullah Pashtoon, Senator Hazrat Shah Nooristani, Senator Mohammad Daud Ghafari, Senator Ehsanullah Bayat and Senator Hadayatullah Ahmadzai.
Engineer Shakatullah, Minister for SAFRON, Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Hafiz Rasheed Ahmad, Senator-in-waiting, Foreign Secretary, Secretary Senate and other officials were present during the meeting.