Ambassador Michael Steiner,
Chairman, International Contact Group,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a matter of great honour for me to address this august gathering of the International Contact Group. We have assembled here for a common cause i.e. restoration of peace, security and stability in Afghanistan. Your Chairmanship reflects the love for peace and the intellectual vigor of the German people.
The three decades old conflict, instability and human tragedy in Afghanistan has had colossal impact on our social and economic fabric. It has also given rise to serious and common challenges. Its fallout continues to haunt us today.
Pakistan lauds international community’s role in Afghanistan. Its efforts have contributed significantly towards promoting stability in Afghanistan.
We have followed with keen interest the recent developments on Afghanistan including the NATO Summit in Lisbon, which was a landmark event. We note the Declaration on NATO’s Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan, especially endorsement of the transition process and NATO’s long-term engagement with Afghanistan in the post-transition phase.
However, despite significant presence of the coalition in Afghanistan for over seven years and gains made by it, there are still concerns about the security situation. We are keen to see the security situation further improve in Afghanistan.
The international community in the past has paid scant attention to poppy cultivation and drugs trade in Afghanistan. Illicit drugs trade has been a major source of terror funding in Afghanistan with serious implications for peace and stability in the whole region. It is, therefore, imperative to target narco trade with sharp focus and determination.
It is equally important to focus on choking funding and supply of weapons to terrorist outfits.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In Afghanistan we continue to be faced with complex problems. Sadly enough, there is no quick fix.
Seeing the complexity of the situation, it is reasonable to believe that transition will be a gradual process. The Afghan security forces have to be enabled to take upon themselves the security responsibilities before the transition is complete. Pakistan reiterates its commitment to help Afghanistan build its capacity.
Pakistan has consistently upheld that military action alone cannot solve Afghanistan’s problems. This has to be supported by political and development tracks simultaneously and that too at a fast pace. It is a positive development that the London Conference and the Kabul Conference set in motion the much-needed and the long-overdue political process. Pakistan has lent its full support to the Afghan efforts.
Pakistan attaches top priority to the development dimension in the region. The region’s economic potential is enormous. To realize this potential, massive investments are required in socio-economic sector, especially in areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and in trans-border infrastructure and energy projects.
There should be no doubt that no solution devised outside Afghanistan or imposed upon the country will work, unless it has full ownership and endorsement of the Afghans themselves. Pakistan, therefore, has extended assurances of its full support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation and Afghans’ own efforts to this end.
Under the present democratic Government there has been a sea change in Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan. Intensive interaction at the leadership and official levels in the recent past has bolstered mutual trust and confidence to unprecedented levels.
Apart from a series of high level visits to and from Afghanistan in recent months, Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, Chairman, High Peace Council visited Pakistan in January this year. At the initiative of Afghanistan, we agreed in principle, to create a joint mechanism in support of the reconciliation process. We are happy that the Government and the people of Afghanistan have appreciated this approach. For us the bottom line is a peaceful, stable, prosperous and developed Afghanistan. Of course, Pakistan desires the best of friendly and brotherly relations with Afghanistan.
We support the effort of President Hamid Karzai and Chairman of the High Peace Council Professor Rabbani as well as the Government and people of Afghanistan for reconciliation and peace.
The international community must learn from history. It is clear that Afghanistan needs great attention in terms of moral and material support. All that Afghanistan needs now and in the near future is sustained engagement of the international community for peace and development in the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The international community especially Afghanistan’s immediate and far neighbours must support an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led effort for reconciliation and peace. We all must respect the fundamental principles of interstate relations. Most notably respect for the unity, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. We must also respect the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. It is further incumbent upon all not to allow their territories to be used for activities against the interests of Afghanistan and those of the other countries in the region. I underscore, in most unequivocal terms, Pakistan’s commitment to these principles in letter and spirit.
Our desire is to see a transition that is irreversible, a peace that is durable and a development that is sustainable. We all must work together towards this end. Pakistan shares the international community’s vision for a better future of Afghanistan.
I thank you.
Last modified: November 23, 2019
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