PESHAWAR - Afghan Consul General in Peshawar Dr Abdullah Waheed Poyan expressed the hope that the ongoing tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan would defuse soon.

The Afghan diplomat called for joint efforts to cope with common challenges and to establish lasting peace in the region.

“Afghanistan and Pakistan are faced with common threats that should be tackled with joint efforts,” he said while talking to media persons after attending a seminar in connection with ‘Afghanistan International Culture Day’ at Peshawar Press Club. The seminar was organised by Regional Forum for Peace and Development on Saturday.

Poyan said that the Afghan government attached more importance to the relations with Pakistan as compared to other regional countries.

Notable among the speakers were Rahmat Shah Siyal, Dr Abaseen Yousafzai, Abdul Majeed Chandio from Saraiki belt, Fatima Atif from Hazara community, and Alamzeb Khan, chairman of the forum. Besides, the seminar was also attended by a number of Pashtu language poets, writers, civil society members, lawyers and people from different walks of life.

In reply to a question about increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan, the Afghan diplomat said that every country had its own policy to strengthen relationship with its neighbouring countries, so Afghanistan had too the utmost desire to enhance mutual ties with all regional countries, including Pakistan. However, he stressed that it was eminent to sort out a peaceful solution to all outstanding issues and jointly address the common problems being faced by both the countries.

Poyan also said that Pakhtuns on both sides of the border had suffered a lot during the prolonged war against terrorism in the region. He said that health and education infrastructures had been badly damaged in the war-torn areas, while a large number of Afghans were displaced, he observed.

Earlier, speaking at the seminar, Poyan said that Afghanistan and Pakistan had cordial relations due to their common language, traditions, culture and religion. “We being a nation proved the world that we are capable to resolve our issues through traditional jirga system. Women are given great respect in Pakhtuns’ culture which has no precedent in rest of the world”, the Afghan envoy said.

Poyan alleged political leadership of Pakistan for not showing seriousness to settle down amicably all pertaining issues with its neighbour Afghanistan. “Afghanistan and Pakistan are in flames, so let’s come together to fight against the menace of terrorism and bring stability for peaceful co-existence in the region,” the diplomat said.

He said that Pakhtuns were resilient, who had remained steadfast against terrorism and rendered unforgettable sacrifices for establishment of durable peace in the region. The diplomat also stressed the need for establishment of people-to-people contact and exchange of delegations to boost cultural, business and trade relations between the two neighbouring Muslim states.

Fatima Atif, a peace and culture activist from Hazara community highlighted that a culture could not be stagnant and had influence on various things. She added that the role of women was vital in promotion of cultural norms, values and traditions.

She also said that culture gave a message of peace, tolerance, brotherhood and unity. A culture is known as a powerful tool to bridge the gap and enhance cordial relations with any nation of the world, she claimed. She also stressed the need for promoting tolerance, peace and unity among their ranks and sort-out peaceful solutions to all outstanding issues one by one.

Earlier, the forum chairman, Alamzeb Khan, briefed the participants about the significance of holding the event, saying that they had also invited Afghan delegation comprising noted Pashtu poets, writers and literary figures, but they were not allowed to attend the event due to security reasons. He stressed the need for enhancing cultural relations to give boost to the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Other speakers included Usman Olasyar, Abdul Majeed Chandio, former MPA Saleem Khan and Rahmat Shah. They emphasised that both Pakistan and Afghanistan should promote mutual cultural relations and settle down all issues in a peaceful manner.