UNITED NATIONS: A top Pakistani diplomat has underscored the need for ensuring that the drawdown of international forces from Afghanistan does not lead to a security vacuum, while reaffirming Islamabad’s support to an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process aimed at stabilizing the war-torn country.
“It is vital that arrangements are in place beyond 2014 to bolster stability in Afghanistan and its neighbourhood,” Ambassador Masood Khan told the security Council on Tuesday.
Speaking in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan, the Pakistani envoy wishes the Afghan people success in negotiating difficult economic, political and security transitions, and said that credible elections would have an impact on peace and stability, and that related security challenges must be addressed in the early planning stages.
Masood Khan called on all parties to support the peace efforts, stressing that ” it was imperative to reverse the destructive cycle of violence”. Pakistan, he said, would not choose sides or interfere in Afghan affairs, nor should any other State. “The people of Afghanistan must have the necessary strategic and political space to make their own decisions.”
Further, he said that Pakistan would do its utmost to sustain the reconciliation process, having appealed to the Taliban to enter into dialogue with the Afghan Government. “Our leadership, at the highest level, remains engaged with the (High Peace) Council, which is making commendable efforts for peace under the leadership of Salahuddin Rabbani.”
The Pakistani envoy also said Afghanistan’s transformation from a wartime to a peacetime economy would require more reliance on growth.
Pakistan was contributing to Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction, he said, citing the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s recent announcement of enhanced assistance. Pakistanis and Afghans were bound by strong bonds. “These bonds will never be atrophied or severed”, he said, noting that a prosperous Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interest.
Masood Khan told the 15-nation Council that Prime Minister Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai had resolved to craft a strategic partnership and work for economic development. As well, Pakistan had agreed to accelerate regional projects.
However, while Pakistan had renewed the legal status of Afghan refugees to the end of 2015, it would not be able to absorb fresh inflows. The two countries must secure their border through effective management and real-time communication, including more contacts between their Armed Forces and intelligence agencies, he said. The United Nations must concentrate on good offices and coherent approaches to equitable sustainable development.