Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi said here on Saturday that new connectivity is emerging in the region through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which will connect the regional countries with other regions as well as emerging markets in the world.

Addressing the Afghan Peace Conference held in Pakistan’s scenic hill station of Bhurban in eastern Punjab province, some 68 km northeast of capital Islamabad, Qureshi said that China has connected Pakistan’s former fishing town of Gwadar with China’s Xinjiang province under the Belt and Road Initiative, opening a new era of trade and development for Pakistan and the regional countries, including Afghanistan.

The conference was organized by Pakistan-based thinktank Lahore Center for Peace Research and it was attended by senior political leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistani officials and diplomats and others.

The foreign minister welcomed the Afghan political leaders who attended the conference to discuss the prospects of peace and stability in Afghanistan, saying that peace and development are intertwined factors and Pakistan is making efforts for sustainable development under CPEC.

Qureshi said that all the countries in the region have the consensus that peace in Afghanistan is a must for a peaceful region and “We all have made several efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Afghan issue.”

Talking about the Pakistan-Afghan relations, Qureshi said that his country had played its role in helping Afghans reclaim peace, and has been hosting millions of Afghan refugees which is a testimony to the closeness between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan is determined to build its bilateral relationship with Afghanistan on the principles of non-interference, mutual respect and common interest.

“Advancing the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan is also in the best interest of Pakistan, and it shares the common objective of long-term peace and stability in the region”, the foreign minister said, adding that Pakistan wishes to see a friendly Afghanistan, governed by elected leadership, which is representative of the aspirations of all Afghans.

“In addition to playing our role in the peace process, Pakistan also remains committed to the Afghan reconstruction and development efforts. We stand ready to help Afghanistan through trade, investment, connectivity and capacity-building of the Afghan people.”