ISLAMABAD - A high-powered delegation of the Senate Defence and Defence Production Committee led by its Chairman, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, will be leaving today for Kabul to engage Afghanistan in a first-ever serious parliamentary dialogue process with Pakistan on crucial regional security issues.

The visit will last for four days and the delegation will be meeting with its counterpart in the Afghan parliament and leaders of Afghanistan including President Hamid Karzai and his National Security Adviser.

The delegation is also expected to have a meeting with Commander of the NATO/American forces in Afghanistan, General Dunforth.

The visit of this parliamentary defence delegation comes soon after the visit of President Hamid Karzai to Islamabad and the initiative to bring Pakistan and Afghanistan closer together so that both countries work together just before the upcoming withdrawal of NATO/American forces from Afghanistan in 2014.

The delegation, led by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence & Defence Production, includes prominent parliamentarians from all political parties including Senator Chaudhry Shujat Hussain, Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Maulana Mohammad Khan Shirani, Haji Adeel, Afrasiab Khattak Begum Najma Hameed, Sehar Kamran, Jehangir Badar and Farhatullah Babar.   The delegation has been sponsored by PILDAT, a non-governmental organization based in Islamabad.

Talking to NNI, Senator Mushahid Hussain said ‘today for Pakistan, relations with Afghanistan are of paramount importance and they are key to Pakistan’s stability, the destinies of both countries are intertwined.’

He termed President Karzai ‘an old friend of Pakistan’ who’s recent visit was ‘highly successful’. ‘Both brotherly neighbours need each other to build a better tomorrow based on peace and stability in the region, which has been in turmoil since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and their people’s have been in the eye of the storm, but both demonstrated resilience and an ability to bounce back by overcoming crises’.

Senator Mushahid Hussain said an important purpose of his delegation’s visit is to institutionalise this Pakistan-Afghanistan security and defence dialogue, and make it a regular, annual feature, alternating between Kabul and Islamabad.