Peshawar: Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao has said, “Pakhtuns are passing through a very difficult time and they are considered as terrorists by the international community, but the fact is that they are progressive and a peace-loving nation.”

QWP chief expressed his remarks during an international conference on ‘The Question of Pakhtun Identity in the Pak-Afghn regioin: Challenges and Prospects’ jointly organized by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Peshawar and Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan.

Aftab Sherpao added that it was a fact and no one could deny that Pakhtuns living on both sides of the border were facing menace of extremism and terrorism which had not only damaged our cultural values, but also devastated the entire infrastructure of the region. “And that is the reason behind increase of sense of deprivation and despair among them,” he mentioned.

He maintained that in order to cope up with the present situation we should established friendly and cordial relations with neighboring countries especially Afghanistan. “The Pakhtun population of both Pakistan and Afghanistan are victims of terrorism and it is time for Islamabad and Kabul to formulate a joint strategy to curb it at gross root level. Bothe the states should have taken Pakhtuns leadership on board before formulation of policies regarding restoration of peace and development in the Pakhtuns belt,” he expressed.

Aftab Sherpao further said that his party had always been advocating for

Bolstering of government-to-government, establishment-to-establishment and people-to-people contacts between Islamabad and Kabul in order to help minimize trust deficit between them. The grand peace jirga comprised of Pakhtuns leadership from both sides was a ray of hope in normalization of bilateral relations between them but unfortunately this process was not given a chance to flourish ahead, he stated.

QWP chairman said that Pakhtuns were inhabitants of this belt and they had rendered many sacrifices to defend their land and hence it was the time for the government to take measure steps and gave due share in CPEC and other mega developmental project to the war affected areas of KP and Fata in order to end their grievances.   Government should also establish a trust for heirs of victims of terrorism, he demanded.

Aftab Sherpao said Pakhtuns were second largest nation by population in the country which had been fragmented into several administrative units. They all should be united in one unit and for this purpose Fata should be merged into KP province as soon as possible. “Pakhtuns are not terrorists but victims of terrorism and the international community should come forward and assist them morally, socially and financially,” he concluded.