Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday while reiterating Pakistan’s strong solidarity with the people of Afghanistan urged the international community to do more to help the Afghan leadership realise its vision. In his address at the London Conference on Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said Pakistan and Afghanistan were committed to advancing their common goal of a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister is on a three-day visit to the United Kingdom to participate in the conference also attended by British Prime Minister David Cameron, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The Conference is being co-hosted by the Governments of UK and Afghanistan. He said over the past 13 years, Afghanistan has made significant gains in many important areas and mentioned the landmark agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, to form a government of national unity as an important milestone in this democratic transition.
“We fully support the government’s forward-looking vision and reform programme – including measures to strengthen the economy, governance, and the rule of law – with the overall aim of achieving self-reliance during the ‘Transformation Decade’, and its plans for regional connectivity.” Prime Minister Sharif also welcomed the government’s call for a dialogue, and its determination to resolve differences through political means.
He recalled his recent meeting with President Ashraf Ghani during his first state visit to Pakistan. “I am convinced that we made a historic new beginning in our bilateral relations.” Sharif said he shared with President Ghani his vision of a comprehensive and enduring partnership between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which contributes to the security and prosperity of the two nations and reinforces efforts for peace and development in the region.
“We agreed that terrorism, a common enemy, must be fought through common endeavours, without any distinction. We reaffirmed the commitment that neither side would allow its territory to be used against the other.” The Prime Minister said Pakistan and Afghanistan have initiated actions to deepen security co-operation, promote bilateral trade and streamline transit trade issues, besides building a stronger economic relationship with a new focus on investments, and enhanced regional economic co-operation.
“We have also agreed to fast-track the implementation of key trans-regional energy projects – particularly the CASA-1000 and TAPI gas pipeline.” He said Pakistan and Afghanistan would also work together to promote the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process – as Pakistan will host its 5th Ministerial Conference in 2015.
The Prime Minister while recognising the principle of reciprocal commitments, underlining the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF), said it was his considered view that the international community would need to do more, to help the Afghan leadership realise its vision and to advance the common goal of a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Sharif also presented a nine-point agenda for consideration by the international partners. These include the need for sending a clear message of deeper engagement with Afghanistan, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and the dignity of its people.
The Prime Minister also called for the need to address the urgent fiscal crisis and provide sustained financial assistance through the “Transformation Decade” for building a secure and self-reliant Afghanistan. He stressed development co-operation to meet the development priorities of the Afghan government besides strengthening efforts in the fight against narcotics production and trafficking.
Sharif also urged the international community to support the new government’s desire to bring back five million Afghan refugees living abroad. He also stressed the need to support projects for regional connectivity – such as the Peshawar-Kabul Motorway and the rail link. This he said would help in the implementation of the vision of Afghanistan as a “land-bridge” by supporting communications and energy corridors.
The Prime Minister also called for reinforcing economic CBMs of the Heart of Asia, as part of the regional processes for the stabilisation of Afghanistan. The Prime Minister said history and geography have consistently posed challenges for the people of Afghanistan and mentioned the recent casualties suffered by the Afghan brothers from the terrorist attacks in Paktia and Kabul. “I offer my sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones.” The Prime Minister thanked Prime Minister David Cameron for organising this important Conference on Afghanistan.