Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalam-o-Alikum and a very good evening!
I am delighted to join our dear friend, and distinguished Ambassador of Afghanistan, His Excellency Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, and the Afghans living all over the world, in celebrating the 97th Anniversary of the Independence Day of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
On behalf of the people and the Government of Pakistan, and on my own behalf, I extend our heartiest felicitations to your Excellency and the fraternal people of Afghanistan, on this joyous occasion.
Afghanistan is a brotherly country and a close neighbour of Pakistan. We share an abiding relationship that draws strength from the rich bonds of our common faith, history, geography, culture and kinship. The people of the two countries have firmly stood with each other in thick and thin.
Close cooperative relations with Afghanistan have always been cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s vision of a “peaceful neighbourhood” enshrines a comprehensive partnership with Afghanistan for promoting peace, progress and prosperity of our region.
To realize this vision, we persistently endeavour for constructive engagement with Afghanistan to further strengthen our neighbourly ties, based on mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and adherence to the cardinal principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
Pakistan desires lasting peace in Afghanistan. It is important for peace and stability in Pakistan and for realizing our leadership’s vision for promoting connectivity with Central Asia and beyond. We firmly believe that politically negotiated settlement through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process is the most viable option for achieving this objective.
Terrorism remains a common threat to both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan and its forces are valiantly fighting the menace of terrorism. We have rendered immense human and economic sacrifices in this struggle in the recent years. In our views, close cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan is important for eliminating the scourge of terrorism from our region.
It is encouraging that our increased cooperation has manifested in the form of a high-level consultation mechanism that would deepen trust and confidence amongst our two countries. It entails an opportunity to collaborate in dealing with our multiple security and political challenges and pave way for forging constructive ties in many areas.
Consistent with the vision of our leadership, Pakistan is committed to the pursuit of comprehensive bilateral engagement in various fields such as in trade, investment, security, counter-terrorism, border management, energy transmission, infrastructure connectivity, Afghanistan’s reconstruction and rehabilitation, parliamentary exchanges and cultural, educational and sports links.
Pakistan is undertaking a number of reconstruction and development projects in Afghanistan geared to stimulate socio-economic development. Under the $500 million assistance package, the Government of Pakistan has built roads, schools, universities and hospitals in various parts of Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister has consistently reiterated his desire for forging a strong trade and economic partnership with Afghanistan to reap the benefit of our strategic locations into mutual economic dividend. Enhanced regional connectivity through road, rail and energy transmission networks would enable us to effectively utilize our immense natural resources for economic development of our peoples.
In order to promote the ideals of regional cooperation and connectivity, Pakistan will be hosting the SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November this year. We look forward to the participation of President Ashraf Ghani in this important regional summit.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to take the opportunity of this auspicious occasion to reiterate our commitment for a close, cooperative relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan that serves the best interests of our two nations and helps advance the cause of peace, progress and development in the region.
I conclude by thanking Ambassador Zakhilwal again, and praying for continued progress and prosperity of the brotherly people of Afghanistan.
I thank you.
Source Ministry of Foreign Affairs