“Pakistan needs to stop treating Afghanistan as its fifth province and let the Afghans develop a political awareness on their own,” Arif Afghani of the Afghan Revolutionary Organisation said on Thursday.
He was speaking at the first Pakistan-Afghanistan Progressive Parties Conference in Lahore, organised by the Labour Party, Awami Party and the Workers Party.
The two-day conference was attended by members of four parties of Afghanistan.
Afghani, a high school teacher in Kabul, said that the general public in Afghanistan was concerned about the US leaving their country, as the warlords were the only option they saw. “However, if the foreign presence and influence in Afghanistan ends and people are allowed to be independent, they will make better choices,” he said. He said the people of Afghanistan were now better prepared to deal with extremists.
Malalai Joya, a former Afghan parliamentarian and a human rights activist, said that the Afghans had three enemies; the warlords, the Taliban and the occupation forces. Joya said that the so called war on terror had made Afghanistan a safe haven for terrorists. Regarding the status of women in Afghanistan, Joya said it had worsened. She said rape cases and honour killings had increased, and access to basic healthcare was still a luxury.
Another women’s rights activist and member of the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan said that there had been an increase in suicide by women in Afghanistan.
Participants of the conference agreed that Pakistan and Afghanistan had common enemies. Party leaders opposed allowing Nato supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan, but stressed the need for trade between the two countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2011.