| Diplomacy

Message of peace, unity in Peshawar on Afghanistan's Independence Day

By Muhammad Ahil

Afghan refugees wait for their turn outside a Pakistani registration centre in Peshawar on August 17, 2017. If one nation bleeds, the other feels the pain, according to an expression heard at a gala organised by the Afghan consulate in Peshawar August 19 to celebrate Afghanistan's 98th Independence Day. [ABDUL MAJEED/AFP]

PESHAWAR -- Co-operation in battling terrorism was the theme as Pakistani and Afghan dignitaries in Peshawar celebrated Afghanistan's 98th Independence Day on Saturday (August 19).

The Afghan consulate in Peshawar organised the event, attended by politicians, civilians and representatives from several countries with commercial or diplomatic presences in Peshawar.

During the event, officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan unanimously emphasised the need for a co-ordinated battle against terrorism that in turn would lead to peace and progress.

If one nation bleeds, the other feels the pain, according to an expression heard at the gala.

Calls for peace and progress

At the lavish event in Shiraz Arena, Afghan Consul General Abdullah Waheed Poyan congratulated his own nation on its Independence Day and recalled the struggle of its forefathers for their freedom.

"Peace is what Afghanistan needs the most today," he said. "Economic and social infrastructure will follow."

"Pakistan and Afghanistan have to join hands for peaceful existence and to defeat enemies who are threatening the foundation of both countries," he said. "It is the need of the hour to wage a joint war to defeat terrorism in all its forms and shapes."

"If Afghanistan is insecure, Pakistan will feel the pain," Poyan said.

"Elements opposed to peace in both countries need to be eliminated," Awami National Party (ANP) General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain told Pakistan Forward at the party. "Both countries have to revisit their policies and ensure that both Afghan and Pakistani soil is not used by the terrorists."

"Pakistan and Afghanistan should realise that terrorists are out to kill innocent people and to terrorise Pashtuns," he said. "The concept of bad and good Taliban must be buried."

Growth and economic prosperity in both countries will only come if peace is restored by rooting out terrorism, he said.

Building trust on both sides of the border

Trust building between the neighbours is needed for peace and prosperity, said Hasim Babar of Peshawar, leader of the Qaumi Watan Party.

"History bears witness that the brave people of this soil have never been defeated," Babar said at the event. "They can beat terrorism as well if they join hands."

"We have to give up petty disputes for the bright future of coming generations," he said.

"Pashtuns on both sides of the border have to realise that their future existence is dependent on the restoration of peace, and they can win the war on terror only if they are united," Abdul Latif Afridi, head of the Pakistan Bar Council, told Pakistan Forward.

"It's wonderful to see Pashtuns' true colours under one roof," Peshawar resident Rameez Khan told Pakistan Forward. "We've had enough of war. We need peace and progress."

"It's time we go after everyone who has been killing us in the name of religion for decades," said Abdul Salam Afghan, an Afghan-born businessman in Peshawar.

Adding to the festive air, Zarsanga, a singer from Nowshera District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, performed Pashtu folk songs and Afghan national songs.

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