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I had a most useful meeting with President Ashraf Ghani in Paris on Monday, 30 November 2015, where we both were attending the Paris Climate Change Conference. We had the opportunity to discuss issues of interest to both our nations, with particular focus on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

2. Pakistan attaches the highest importance to its relations with Afghanistan. Our peoples are bound by centuries old political, cultural and economic ties.

3. Pakistan is convinced that peace in Afghanistan is essential for peace and stability in the region. Pakistan has, therefore, supported, and will continue to support peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

4. We believe that terrorism and extremism is the common enemy of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. We have affirmed that the terrorists threatening peace in Afghanistan are no friends of Pakistan, and vice-versa.

5. It is important that both countries take steps to ensure that terrorist groups are not allowed any sanctuaries on the soil of either country. Pakistan has vowed to act against all terrorists. There are no good or bad terrorists.

6. Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used by any individual or group to commit acts of terrorism in Afghanistan or elsewhere. We expect the same commitment from Afghanistan and other countries.

7. There are two broad approaches to handle instability in Afghanistan: the military option or negotiated peace process. Pakistan believes that the use of force alone may not achieve peace in Afghanistan. On the other hand, a robust and meaningful reconciliation process, if pursued seriously, has better prospects of establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

8. It was in this spirit that Pakistan engaged in sincere efforts to facilitate an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process. The 7 July (2015) meeting in Murree was not only productive but also brightened the prospects for a reduction of violence in Afghanistan.

9. Pakistan does not believe in any blame game, and instead would like to make renewed efforts to resurrect the peace and reconciliation process. Since it has to be an Afghan-led process, we are confident that the Afghan government and the Taliban would step forward with concrete ideas and proposals and engage in meaningful reconciliation talks. Pakistan is prepared to extend its full support and assistance in promoting any such initiative.

10. Pakistan believes that the US and China, which were associated with Murree reconciliation process, are vital partners in this process. We would also welcome the support of other friendly powers in this endeavor. Pakistan would, therefore, welcome a quadrilateral initiative to restart the reconciliation process. To this end, the forthcoming meeting of Heart of Asia – Istanbul process, to be held in Islamabad on 09 December 2015, provides a welcome opportunity to evolve a common roadmap for result oriented reconciliation in Afghanistan.

11. I look forward to the visit of President Ashraf Ghani to Islamabad, for jointly inaugurating the 09 December Heart of Asia meeting, and for discussions on the sidelines on how the two countries and the US and China can work together to pick up the thread of the reconciliation process, from where it was left off in July 2015.

12. Besides facilitating reconciliation, Pakistan is also prepared to hold serious discussions on better border management so that cross border movement of terrorists can be contained. It is important to finalize border SOPs as early as possible.

13. For decades now, the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have confronted the common threat of terrorism. Pakistan has recently made notable gains in its counter-terrorism campaign through military operation Zarb-e-Azb and launching a comprehensive National Action Plan. Pakistan looks forward to coordinating closely with Afghanistan at political, diplomatic, military, and intelligence levels, to take our joint fight against terrorism to its logical conclusion.

14. The people, leadership and Government of Pakistan hold the people and leadership of Afghanistan in the highest esteem. We sincerely hope that working together the two countries would rise up to the expectations of their people, and cooperate closely to defeat all terrorists and establish a lasting peace in our region.

1 December 2015

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