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At the United Nations Security Council, Pakistan condemned the recent US drone strike, describing it as an unacceptable and blatant violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and of the UN charter and international law.

Speaking in the quarterly debate on Afghanistan in the Council, Pakistan’s Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi also reacted sharply to the allegations made by the Afghan representative, calling these unjustified, untrue and gratuitous.

In fact she pointed out, the international community was well aware of and acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

While expressing Pakistan’s readiness to support a genuine Afghan peace process, Ambassador Lodhi warned that her country will not tolerate violations of its sovereignty and its territorial integrity, “from whatever source”.

She asked whether the international community wanted a negotiated peace or a military solution in Afghanistan, Ambassador Lodhi warned that those seeking a renewed recourse to a military solution need to think through the consequences of their posture.

“Is it ready to invest in war rather than peace in Afghanistan?” she asked the 15-member Security Council.

Referring to the Secretary General’s report on Afghanistan, the Pakistani envoy said that this reinforced the firm international consensus that, ‘only by a negotiated political agreement will Afghans achieve sustainable peace’.

“This is precisely what Pakistan has long proposed as the only course to end the decades of war and suffering in Afghanistan”, she said.

Based on this belief in a negotiated peace, and in response to repeated requests from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, she said Pakistan agreed to facilitate the first-ever direct peace talks between the Afghan Government and the Afghan Taliban in Murree in June 2015.

Depicting these talks as a ‘promising start’, Ambassador Lodhi regretted that days before the second round, in which the two sides were to also consider a de-escalation of violence, the talks were scuttled by developments that are well known to all.

Ambassador Lodhi also referred to concerted efforts that led to the establishment of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) by which Afghanistan, the US, China and Pakistan undertook to join together to provide a decisive impetus to Afghan peace efforts.

The process, welcomed by the international community, Ambassador Lodhi said, was undermined by the US drone attack of 21 May which killed the Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

This action has dealt “a blow to the Afghan peace process” and added to the intensity and complexity of the Afghan conflict, she added.

She also asked whether it was an accident that the peace process was scuttled twice in one year.

Ambassador Lodhi argued that for the past 15 years the use of military force has failed to stabilize Afghanistan. “Continued resort to military means will further destabilize the situation in Afghanistan and the region.” Pakistan, she emphasized, would advise against such a strategy”.

Referring to Operation Zarb-e-Azb as the largest and most effective anti-terrorism campaign anywhere in the world, she said that Pakistan had achieved substantial gains and was determined to eliminate all terrorist threats within the country.

Urging the Afghan government and the international coalition to take action against Tehrik-i-Taliban elements, which have sought refuge in Afghanistan, Ambassador Lodhi emphasized that the elimination of these sanctuaries was essential to peace and security.

She regretted the Afghan Government’s inability to finalize border SOPs and establish a Joint Border Commission as proposed by Pakistan.

“Effective border management is the sovereign right of my country”, she said and added that “Pakistan will take measures on its side of the border accordingly”.

22 June 2016

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