ISLAMABAD: “The mindset of the leadership and governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan is the same, as the leaders of both the countries share a common vision and desire for peace and stability. In Pashto, there is an expression which translates to ‘the bond strengthens between two when there’s proximity of distance’,” stated Afghan Ambassador Dr Omar Zakhilwal while speaking at the Pak-Afghan Youth Cultural Get Together hosted by the Centre for Research & Security Studies (CRSS) in Islamabad. Dr Omar Zakhilwal said that the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan was multidimensional. It is not just the relationship of two neighbours, but of a common history, culture, language, interests, threats and many other commonalities. “I do believe sooner or later, we will find a path forward, because we have no other option. Having said that, there is a sense of urgency, we have to find the path sooner. For this, we need to get bolder, smarter and rely on our own bilateral initiatives,” he said. Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Lieutenant General (r) Nasser Khan Janjua, who was invited as the chief guest along with the ambassador, stated that it was time that we got over the expression of ‘lack of trust’ when referring to Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said while adding that Pakistan sees a common future with Afghanistan. He also stated that universities, colleges and schools were all available for Afghan youth, urging them to optimally utilise these educational facilities in Pakistan. NSA further urged to unite in embracing a better future. He also thanked the visiting Afghan delegation of CRSS’ Pak-Afghan Track 1.5/II initiative Beyond Boundaries for visiting Pakistan and commended the efforts of the centre through this initiative for improving bilateral relations. The evening continued with several mesmerising performances by young Afghan and Pakistani artists and students studying at Quaid-i-Azam and International Islamic University, Islamabad. The ceremony was attended by an overwhelming gathering of over 200 alumni of CRSS’ Afghan Studies Centre initiative who travelled long distances to participate in the ceremony and interact with their Afghan and Pakistani counterparts. Published in Daily Times, March 2nd 2018.