Pakistan urges intl community for balanced approach

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday called upon the international community for a multi-faceted and balanced approach towards Pakistan and Afghanistan, based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference.
The Foreign Minister was addressing at the ‘International Conference on Afghanistan’ held here, which was also attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta and Netherlands Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen.
The Foreign Minister stressed the need for a regional approach towards the two neighboring countries and said it must had the whole-hearted support of all stakeholders.
He said time had come to initiate the healing process through an Afghan-led process of reconciliation, based on genuine dialogue and an inclusive political process.
“The process must be culturally nuanced and tailored to local customs, traditions, values and religious beliefs,” he said.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said to rectify misperceptions, the international forces had to clearly and unambiguously signal that they had no hidden agenda.
“They must win confidence of the common folk through an extensive sensitization campaign aimed at winning hearts and minds,” he added.
The Foreign Minister proposed for a major development surge, placing generous focus on reconstruction and social welfare and the Afghan authorities given a lead and defining role.
He also called for the capacity building of Afghan national security forces and institution building at priority.
He stressed the need for addressing the free flow of weapons, drugs and money while the farmers be provided alternate livelihoods.
“There is a need to tackle this issue in a coordinated manner within Afghanistan and at the regional level.”
Qureshi said there was a need to create strong pull factors to enable the Afghan refugees in Pakistan to return home with dignity and honour.
He said no country was affected more or had greater stakes in Afghanistan than Pakistan.
“Whatever happens in one country invariably impacts the other. Our security and our stability, our problems and our prospects are inextricably linked. Our destinies are intertwined,” he said.
The Foreign Minister said Pakistan had been happy to partner with the international community in its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, and would continue to play an active role.
He said Pakistan had been at the forefront of the global campaign against terrorism.
“More Pakistani soldiers have fallen in combat than the combined casualties of foreign troops in Afghanistan,” he said.
He said Pakistani nation stands firm in its resolve to combat this menace, and said, “We will continue to pursue a multi-pronged strategy with the support and assistance of local populations.”
He said with Afghanistan, the democratic government had brought about a fundamental and qualitative transformation in relations as the leadership of the two countries enjoy an equation which is both close and personal.
“Our multi-track engagement transcends political, economic, security and social spheres. Together, our two countries are developing a relationship of deeper trust and greater understanding,” he said.
He mentioned of reviving the Jirga process and continue to pursuing it as a useful means for promoting dialogue and development.
The Foreign Minister said to push forward trans-regional development agenda, Pakistan would shortly be hosting the Third Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan.
“We shall continue to play our role in Afghanistan’s development and lend every possible humanitarian assistance. To this end, we are putting together a package of food support. And shortly, we will increase the quantum of our participation in Afghan reconstruction,” he said.
He said Afghanistan of today was a far cry from what it was a decade ago, as political, economic and security assistance of the international community reflected in the Bonn Accord, the London Compact and under the auspices of the United Nations had been instrumental in manifesting the world’s support to the Afghan people.
He said a comprehensive strategy in a regional context must take into account the successes and failures of the past seven years.
“It is our expectation that the global re-think on Afghanistan will translate into concrete and coherent measures that would be consistent with the will and aspirations of the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
He expressed the hope that international community would continue to extend Pakistan and Afghanistan its full support to their joint quest for a better and more peaceful future for their peoples.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2009