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> Friendship is the Only Way Forward: Parliamentarians from Pakistan & Afghanistan Reiterate
   PILDAT facilitates Pakistanís Parliamentary Delegation to Kabul
Pak-Afghan Parliamentarians Workshop
October 31, 2008
Hotel Serena, Kabul


Islamabad, October 31: In their detailed interactions with Parliamentarians of Afghanistan, the President of Afghanistan Mr. Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan Senate Mr. Sibghatullah Majuddadi and Speaker Afghan National Assembly, Mr. Mohammad Younus Qanooni, Pakistanís Parliamentarians reiterated together with their Afghan hosts that strengthening of friendship between Pakistan and Afghanistan is the only way forward for a prosperous and secure future for both countries.


The Pakistani Parliamentary delegation was visiting Kabul, facilitated by PILDAT, from October 27-30, 2008 to interact with their Afghan counterparts to share parliamentary practices in the two countries especially the parliamentary budget process. Taking advantage of the visit, the high level, multi-party delegation held frank discussions with Afghan policymakers on a host of issues that can strengthen relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pakistani delegation, that was led by Senator Mir Jan Mohammad Jamali, Deputy Chairman Senate of Pakistan (Balochistan, PML), included Senator Abdul Raziq (FATA, Independent) and Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology, Senator Rukhsana Zuberi (Sindh, PPPP), Senator S.M. Zafar (Punjab, PML), Chairman, Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights, MNA Abdul Majeed Khan Khanan Khel, (NA-73 Bhakkar-I, Punjab, PML-N), MNA Dr. Ayatullah Durrani, (NA 268, Kalat-cum-Mastung Haidri, Balochistan, PPPP), MNA Asif Hasnain (NA 255 Karachi XVII, Sindh, MQM), Mr. Iftikhar Ullah Babar, Additional Secretary, Senate of Pakistan and Mr. Qamar Sohail Lodhi, Joint Secretary, National Assembly of Pakistan. Also included in the delegation were Mr. Omar Ayub Khan, Former MNA and Minister of State for Finance in his capacity as a key-note Speaker at PILDAT Workshop on Pakistanís Parliamentary Budget Process, Mr. Bismillah Kakar, General Secretary PPP, Balochistan & former Provincial Minister while PILDAT Team led by Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director included Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director and Mr. Hmmal Dostain, Programme Officer. The Pakistani delegation arrived in Kabul on October 27 and stayed on till October 30, 2008.


As a key part of the visit, PILDAT had organized a two-day Joint Parliamentary Workshop on Parliamentary Budget Process at Kabul from October 28-29, 2008 so that Parliamentarians from both sides interact on issues that streamline Parliamentary Democracy in Pakistan & Afghanistan. Over 60 MPs from Afghan Parliament participated and interacted with the Pakistani Parliamentary Delegation during the workshop. PILDAT Workshop on Parliamentary Budget Process was inaugurated by Honourable Mr. Mohammad Younus Qanooni, President, Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of the Afghan Parliament) while Sayed Hamed Gailani, First Deputy Speaker, Meshrano Jirga (Senate of Afghanistan) remained engaged throughout the two-day workshop. The workshop that saw a variety of speakers and subject specialists from both sides witnessed keen interest and participation of MPs from both sides. It was evident that Afghans, in their nascent democratic structures, are very keen to strengthen their democratic institutions and build a democratic culture that can lead them to a prosperous future. The workshop covered a detailed explanation of Pakistani Budget Process, Afghan Budget Process and a discussion on international best practices of Parliamentary Budget Process. The speakers at the workshop included Mr. Omar Ayub Khan, Former Minister of State for Finance, Pakistan, Mr. Wahidullah Shahrani, Deputy Minister Finance, Afghanistan, Senator H Mohammad Akbar Wahdat, Chairman, National Economy, Finance & General Accounting Committee, Mr. MP Osmani, Chairman Budget Committee, Wolesi Jirga, Mr. Michael Shiver, Advisor Ministry of Finance, Afghanistan and Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT. Apart from the inaugural session chaired by the Speaker National Assembly of Afghanistan, Session 1 on Budget Process in Pakistan was chaired by Senator Rukhsana Zuberi, (Sindh, PPPP), the session on Budget Process in Afghanistan was chaired by Honourable Sayed Hamed Gailani, First Deputy Speaker, Meshrano Jirga, Afghan Parliament, Session 3 on International Best Practices in the Budget Process was chaired by Senator S. M. Zafar, Chairman Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights, while the Concluding Session was chaired by Honourable Senator Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, Deputy Chairman, Senate of Pakistan and was addressed by, among others, Honorable Mr. Mohammad Mir Wais Yasini, Deputy Speaker Wolesi Jirga. Certificates of Participation were distributed amongst workshop participants including Pakistani and Afghani MPs and Parliamentary Staff during the concluding session.


Although an unofficial visit as it was organized through a Pakistani think-tank PILDAT, the Pakistani delegation was received with complete state protocol and honour that displayed warmth and keenness of Afghan Parliament and leaders in promoting people to people and Parliamentary contacts between Afghanistan and Pakistan.


In a meeting with Afghan President Mr. Hamid Karzai, the Pakistani delegation discussed issues of mutual concern and cooperation for the two countries. Mr. Karazi welcomed the delegation and specifically thanked PILDAT for facilitating Pakistanís Parliamentary delegation to Kabul and to initiate Parliamentary contacts between the two neighbourly countries. He especially highlighted that it was a golden opportunity for Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the democratic governments installed in two countries, to resolve their differences and focus on an agenda that harbours peace, harmony and prosperity to the two countries tied in unbreakable bonds of religion, respect and mutual regard for each other.


The Pakistani delegation called on the Speaker Afghan National Assembly Mr. Mohammad Younus Qanooni. Senator Jan Jamali formally extended an invitation to Mr. Qanooni in January 2009 which he graciously accepted. Speaking to the delegation, Mr. Qanooni said that he looked forward to visiting Pakistan and to engage in a serious discussion with Pakistani Parliamentarians and politicians on issues that plague Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. He said that his message to Pakistan was that we can not live but as friendly neighbours as historic relations and respect binding the two countries would not allow otherwise. Pakistani delegation conveyed the wish and willingness of Pakistan and its political leaders to strengthen ties with Afghanistan and highlighted that history is witness to the fact that Pakistan has always stood with its brotherly country in time of its need and this relationship can not but strengthen through wider public interaction and cooperation.


Mr. Sibghatullah Mujaddadi, President Afghan Senate hosted the Pakistani delegation at his house for a luncheon despite his ailing health and warmly recounted stories of his association and friendship with Pakistan that originated during the days of Afghan Jihad. He said that he is a firm believer that Afghanistan will form the first line of defence if at any time Pakistan faced any external threat. He said that Pakistan and Afghanistan share a common enemy in the form of terrorists and extremists who use the name of Islam to propagate hatred, extremism and engage in bloodshed.


Sayed Hamed Gailani also hosted the Pakistani delegation at dinners, both at his residence and later at an official dinner in the honour of the Pakistan delegation. Similarly, Mr. Mirwais Yasini, Deputy Speaker Wolesi Jirga also hosted a dinner in the honour of the Pakistan delegation.


Afghan Media prominantly covered the 2-day Workshop and the Pakistani Parliamentary Delegationís other activities in Kabul.

PILDAT had earlier hosted an Afghan Parliamentary delegation led by Sayed Hamed Gailani at the first-ever Joint Workshop of Pakistani and Afghan Parliamentarians and Parliamentary Staff on the topic of ďParliamentary OversightĒ from April 22-23, 2008 in Islamabad. It has been decided that the third workshop of the series will be hosted by PILAT in Islamabad in January 2009.