Pakistani, Afghan MPs call for further boost to ties

Islamabad, Dec 31 (IANS) Pakistani and Afghan lawmakers Wednesday urged their governments to sign a strategic partnership agreement that will give a boost to bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries.

The members of parliament (MPs) who concluded a two-day security dialogue in Islamabad also called for a relaxed visa regime that allows multiple entry visas for citizens of either country, Xinhua reported.
In a joint statement, participants of the dialogue underscored the need for cooperation of the state and security agencies in the two countries in the fight against terrorism, extremism, and for achieving and maintaining peace and stability in the region.
The MPs stressed the need for comprehensive and effective laws on combating terrorism, including cyber-terrorism, and agreed that parliaments and parliamentary committees in both countries should oversee effective implementation of these laws.
The 18-member Afghan parliamentary delegation also met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who told the guests that both Pakistan and Afghanistan were committed not to allow their territories to be used against each other to make the region peaceful, progress and prosperous.
“The two countries are committed to transform mutual relationship with a special focus on enhanced political engagement, deeper security and counter terrorism cooperation, expanded trade and economic partnership, and regional cooperation,” said Sharif.
The parliamentarians also stressed that trade and commerce between the two countries must be prioritised and formalised. Both sides also supported removal of bottlenecks and trade barriers and emphasised that facilities for transit trade between the two neighbouring countries must be improved.
The two sides supported the initiatives to enhance connectivity between Pakistan and Afghanistan, including through a motorway between the northwestern city of Peshawar and Kabul and other rail and road links as well as building a trade central strategic corridor between the two countries.
The parliamentarians also favoured de-weaponisation and improved drug management across the border.
The joint statement stated that a strong and viable bilateral relationship is the guarantee of security, peace and development in the region.