Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s recent visit to Pakistan has been welcomed by people on both sides of the Durand Line. The two-day state visit has given a new impetus to improve relations between the two neighbouring Islamic countries.
While in Pakistan, the president held meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, high ranking civil and military officials, businessmen and the Pakhtoon political leadership.
President Ghani vowed to open a new chapter in ties with Pakistan. “We must overcome the past,” he said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Sharif. “We will not permit the past to destroy the future.”
He expressed hope that Pakistan and Afghanistan would “serve as the heart of Asia to ensure that economic integration in Asia becomes a reality.”
Prime Minister Sharif reiterated Pakistan’s support, saying “A peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan” was in Pakistan’s national interest too.
During the delegation-level talks, Sharif vowed to boost trade, energy and economic linkages for a prosperous future of the countries. The areas identified included border security and defence, Afghanistan’s reconstruction and rehabilitation, capacity building, parliamentary exchanges, and cultural, educational and sports links.
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) Chief Executive Atiqullah Nasrat said that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on relaxations in various sections such as transit trade and investment in both countries.
Deputy Commerce and Industries Minister Mozammil Shinwari said, based on the MoU, the annual trade volume would be increased from the current $2.5 billion to $5 billion over the next five years.
According to diplomatic and economic experts, President Ashraf Ghani’s meetings with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad have made significant progress towards developing close economic relations and strengthening joint efforts.