ISLAMABAD: National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has said that Afghanistan is our neighbouring country and a peaceful Afghanistan is in the favour of Pakistan and the entire region. He further added that Pakistan would like to have good relations with the United States as well as with our neighbours based on mutual respect and equality. He said this while talking to the Ambassador of Germany Martin Kobler and the participants of the 2018 Course for Senior Officials of the Federal Academy of Security Policy of Germany in separate meetings held at the Parliament House on Tuesday. He said that Pakistan and Germany enjoyed cordial and cooperative relations which needed to be further strengthened through substantive and long term parliamentary and economic cooperation. He also emphasised the need for a regular interaction between political leadership, parliamentarians and people of both the countries that would take the existing relations to new heights. Underlining the need for exploring possibilities, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq added that Pakistan was a potential country for investment with emphasis on trade and development for enhancing cooperation between the two countries. “This will strengthen the impetus of bilateral economic relations among the two countries,” he added. Exchanging views on global and regional issues, he remarked that Pakistan had a keen interest in promoting regional stability and was making consistent efforts for regional peace and economic stability. The speaker asserted that Germany remained one of the vocal and staunch supporters of Pakistan and political engagement on both sides of the country will bring the nations closer and pave ways for inter-parliamentary diplomacy and cooperation. While answering the question regarding stability in Afghanistan, the speaker said that Pakistan wanted to strengthen relations with Afghanistan and work together for peace and prosperity in the region. “Pakistan and Afghanistan are victims of terrorism and both suffered a lot from the menace of extremism. Joint strategy and closer cooperation to address the root causes of terrorism should be needed between the two neighbours,” Ayaz Sadiq said. He also briefed the visit of the high powered Pakistani parliamentary delegation to Afghanistan and shared the details of the meetings with Afghan leadership. The speaker also informed the objectives of the First Speakers Conference held in December 2017 where speakers from Russia, Turkey, Iran, China and Afghanistan attended and discussed the ways how to tackle the menace of terrorism in the region as well connect with each other for prosperity and development. Regarding Pak-US relations, the speaker said that all the political parties in the Parliament are on the same page on the issues of Pak-US relation that our foreign policy will never be shaped under any foreign influence, he said. While answering a question about Pak-India relations, Ayaz Sadiq said that we want better bilateral relations with India without any compromise on the dignity and honour of Pakistan. “Moving forward with India is not possible by brushing Kashmir issue aside. Regional peace and inclusive development, not only for the sub-continent but for the entire region will remain a mere dream, if the international community keeps side stepping the Kashmir issue,” the speaker said. Earlier, Martin Kobler acknowledged the sentiments of the speaker and said that his government also attached immense importance to its relations with Pakistan and wanted to further cement them through cooperation in diverse fields. He agreed that frequent interaction between business communities and parliamentarians would be beneficial for both the nations. He also highlighted that Germany as Europe’s largest economy, was keen to maintain intensive and friendly relations with Pakistan. He further said that Germany would continue to support Pakistan at the regional as well as international level in its efforts towards achieving democratic and economic development. Published in Daily Times, February 14th 2018.