ISLAMABAD - National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Monday said that the Afghan leadership has assured cooperation in cementing bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“The entire political leadership of Pakistan spoke with one voice for developing meaningful partnership between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the speaker said while talking to media after returning from high-level parliamentary delegation’s visit to Afghanistan.

Ayaz said it was time Pakistan moved forward in confidence and trust and that the country would continue playing its role in improving relations with neighbouring countries.

He said that Pakistan wanted to promote peace in the region and it would continue its endeavour to obtain this objective.

The speaker expressed hope that the visit of the high-level parliamentary delegation would open a new chapter in the bilateral relations of the two countries. The main objective behind the visit was to revive relations between the two countries and address all concerns, he said, terming the visit as very successful.

He also expressed hope that the visit would pave way for lasting peace and friendship between the two countries.

Ayaz Sadiq had visited Afghanistan on the invitation of the Afghan president with an aim to ease the tensions between the neighbouring states. He led an unprecedented 15-member parliamentary delegation of top leaders from both houses of Parliament.

“Our dialogue proceeded in a pleasant environment. They provided us with every comfort and gave us the respect that is given not only to a neighbouring country, but to a brother,” the speaker told reporters in Islamabad.

He also said he held a frank, “heart-to-heart” meeting for over five hours with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“We saw that the desire among the Afghan leadership, elected members of parliament and the Afghan people was for better relations and nothing else,” the speaker added.

He said the leadership in Afghanistan was also informed that the visiting delegation was representing all of Pakistan — the government, the opposition and the people of the country — and that Pakistan’s “desire is to restart the process of meetings that had been halted”.

“We are more than just neighbours and brothers,  if there is peace in Afghanistan, there will be peace in Pakistan,” Ayaz said.

The speaker said the Afghan leadership had “promised” that former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah will soon visit Pakistan “and the process of dialogue that has been broken will be restarted”.

Sadiq said a written message by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also delivered in which the premier expressed his condolences over the loss of lives in a terrorist attack on a base in Mazar-e-Sharif in which close to 200 soldiers were killed.

In his message, the prime minister also promised co-operation and intelligence sharing between the two countries. “We went there for a new start, for better relations,” the speaker said.

During the meeting, Ghani stressed the need for the coexistence of a stable Pakistan with a stable Afghanistan.

He acknowledged the contributions of Pakistan during the ‘Afghan jihad’ and thanked the people of the country for their generous hospitality for the Afghan refugees.

Ghani stressed a “five principles” approach, comprising a prime focus on state-to-state relations instead of seeking peace with individual groups; honouring each other’s sovereignty; ensuring that either’s territory is not used against the other; agreement on a common definition of terrorism; and the opening up of transit routes.

The parliamentary leaders’ visit came two days after a top-level Army delegation visited Kabul and held negotiations with the Afghan officials on various issues relating to security.

Inter-Services Public Relations in a statement issued after the day-long visit of the army delegation, led by Chief of the General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar, said “terrorists are a common threat and shall be defeated”.

The resolve was ‘conveyed’ to Afghanistan’s acting Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bahramee and Afghan Chief of Army Staff Gen Mohammad Sharif Yaftali.

The Pakistan parliamentary delegation, led by Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, comprised Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, Federal Ministers Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, Mir Hasil Bazinjo and Akram Durrani, Chairman of the National Assembly Foreign Relations Committee Sardar Awais Leghari, Chief of Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party MNA Mehmood Khan Achakzai, parliamentary leaders of PPP Syed Naveed Qamar, ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood, Jamat-e-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah, Qaumi Watan Party’s Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and FATA leader G. G. Jamal.