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“Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman Pakistan-China Institute,
Mr. Ronny Heine, Director Konrad Adenauer Stiftung,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

Assalam-o-Alaikum and Good Afternoon,

It is a great pleasure for me to be here and interact with a group of such distinguished scholars, academics, strategists and experts.

I am grateful to Senator Mushahid Hussain for his gracious invitation and commend the Pakistan-China Institute and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung for holding this International Conference.

I also welcome all the scholars, from Pakistan and abroad, for their participation and respective contributions.

The Pakistan-China Institute has fast evolved into a vibrant and active think-tank and become a highly important platform for public policy discourse. It would not be an exaggeration if I said it personifies Senator Mushahid’s energy and drive.

This track 1.5 trilateral China-Afghanistan-Pakistan dialogue, to discuss security and political situation in Afghanistan and its implications for neighbouring countries, is a welcome initiative.

Equally so is the China-Pakistan Institute’s partnership with the China Institute of International Studies, which enabled the holding of the first round of this dialogue process in Beijing in August 2013.

Continuing these discussions in Islamabad now, at this pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history, is both timely and beneficial for the policy community — not only in our three countries, but also the wider region.

I am cognizant that in several sessions since yesterday morning, the participants have extensively deliberated on recent developments in the political transition in Afghanistan and the impact of the emerging security environment on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations.

Key issues including counter-terrorism cooperation, economic integration, and role of certain regional countries have been analyzed.

The participants have also discussed border security, Afghan national reconciliation process, and regional economic linkages.

I congratulate the organizers and presenters on successfully covering this vast array of important subjects and formulating pertinent “Policy Recommendations.” These recommendations offer a valuable input into the ongoing policy debate regarding Afghanistan in the region and beyond.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This, undoubtedly, is a moment of hope and optimism in Afghanistan. The successful completion of the electoral process and formation of the national unity government are landmark achievements.

The first-ever peaceful transfer of power from one elected President to another elected President is, rightfully, a matter of pride for the Afghan people.

This outcome became possible due to the wisdom and sagacity of Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who placed national interest above all else. It would go a long way in strengthening the stability and unity of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is indeed fortunate to have the bold vision and strong leadership of President Ashraf Ghani at this crucial juncture. His agenda of change and reform is far-reaching. The “Triangle of Stability” — economy, security and human resource –that he emphasizes is indispensible for Afghanistan.

I was in Kabul yesterday, and it was a great privilege listening to President Ashraf Ghani’s vision – vision for a secure and prosperous Afghanistan; for a “special relationship” between Afghanistan and Pakistan; and for a connected and economically integrating region.

I shared with him Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s desire to build a comprehensive and enduring partnership between our two countries.

I also shared with him the Prime Minister’s vision of an inter-connected region, where trade flourishes and energy flows – through transport corridors, electricity grids, and gas pipelines.

We agreed that peace and stability are prerequisites for the realization of our agenda of economic development and higher standards of living for our peoples.
We recognized that our task was not easy, as the challenges, too, are numerous – including extremism, terrorism, narcotics, and trans-national crimes.

But we also recognized that these challenges can be met through our common resolve and common endeavours and we can march together, hand-in-hand, towards greater peace, stability and prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The rise of China as a global actor is one of the most profound transformations of our times.

China’s policy of “peaceful development” and its growing international outreach serve as the pivotal framework for closer interaction with Afghanistan.

China is the only major power, sharing a border with Afghanistan and thus having a direct stake in its peace and stability. China also has had historically friendly ties with the Afghan people.

The deepening engagement between China and Afghanistan in the bilateral political, economic, security and cultural fields, and China’s contribution to Afghanistan’s “peaceful reconstruction”, are notable developments.

China’s investments in the Aynak copper mine project and Amu Darya Basin oil project signify a major effort to help Afghanistan strengthen the process of its economic development.

In the regional context, the Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process has benefited from China’s wise leadership over the past one year.

The Fourth Ministerial Conference being hosted by China in Beijing on 31 October would be a major occasion for the international community to reaffirm its solidarity with Afghanistan at a time of momentous transitions taking place there.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As strategic partners, Pakistan and China have a common stake in regional peace and stability.

The game-changing Economic Corridor project has immense potential to change the regional outlook in terms of connectivity and economic integration, from which Afghanistan can also benefit immensely.

Pakistan and China have convergent interests and shared goals vis-à-vis Afghanistan. We both want a peaceful, stable, prosperous, and united Afghanistan.
We both recognize that terrorism, extremism and narcotics are serious threats and believe that these should be neutralized through coordinated efforts.

Both Pakistan and China have supported a responsible drawdown by NATO/ISAF and a peaceful democratic transition in Afghanistan.

We both believe that a negotiated political reconciliation among all Afghan stakeholders is the best guarantee for sustainable peace.

Both Pakistan and China have consistently supported an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.

We both are making our own respective contributions to the process of Afghanistan’s reconstruction and economic development.

Both Pakistan and China see Afghanistan’s potential as a “land bridge” and wish to promote its deeper economic integration with the region through linkages in trade, energy, communications, infrastructure, and connectivity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, as Afghanistan is poised to commence the Transformation Decade (2015-2014), it needs strong support of the international community to preserve and consolidate the gains made over the past 13 years.

Such support is also vital for enabling Afghanistan to manage the security and economic transitions and become self-reliant in these key realms over the coming decade.

Conscious of the lessons of history, Pakistan has been consistently stressing that there should be no repeat of the 1990s. In our view, every effort should be made to ensure that neither there is any attempt from outside to fill any perceived security vacuum in Afghanistan, nor is there any economic vacuum allowed to emerge.

International community’s enhanced engagement for Afghanistan’s economic development and reconstruction remains critical, as it would have a reinforcing effect on efforts for peace and stability.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Trilateral China-Pakistan-Afghanistan cooperation is of immense importance for most of these challenges.

The three countries already have mechanism for political consultations. Trilateral Dialogue at the level of the parliamentarians has been initiated. We are coordinating closely in the regional fora, particularly the Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process.

As we move forward, we envisage such trilateral cooperation contributing concretely in the following areas:

i) Supporting Afghanistan’s efforts for peace and stability.
ii) Addressing common challenges of extremism and terrorism.
iii) Strengthening capacity-building of Afghan national security forces (ANSF).
iv) Reinforcing Afghanistan’s economic development, particularly in the mining sector.
v) Promoting connectivity for trade and energy corridors.
vi) Advancing a regional consensus on non-interference.
vii) Mobilizing regional and international support for stability in Afghanistan.

I have no doubt that by engaging constructively across this broad spectrum we can effectively promote our vital goals of security and shared prosperity.

I thank you.”

20 October, 2014

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