Sartaj urges international community to devise strategy against violent extremism

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Monday said that ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb has broken the back of terrorists, urging the international community to join hands for developing a coherent strategy to counter violent extremism.

Addressing a joint news conference with visiting German Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Foreign Office, Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan was still paying a heavy price in fighting the menace of terrorism that also continued to haunt the world.

“I am confident that the operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has broken the back of terrorists, will soon reach its logical conclusion by eradicating this menace from our soil,” he said.

He said they had concluded a “very productive meeting” and their consultations encompassed bilateral relations as well as an exchange of views on regional and global issues, specially the situation in Afghanistan and the stalemate in Pakistan-India dialogue process.

Sartaj Aziz said Germany occupied a special place in Pakistan’s foreign policy.

“We enjoy traditionally warm and friendly relations. For several years now, Germany has been one of Pakistan’s largest trading partner globally and the largest in Europe. Our current trade volume is approaching US$ 3 billion annually, but has the potential of increasing exponentially,” the Foreign Adviser said.

He said Pakistan would welcome German investments in various sectors of its economy, especially in engineering and renewable energy.

Sartaj Aziz told media that they also discussed the continuing and emerging challenges that must be addressed through sustained and well-coordinated policies and actions.

He said Pakistan believed in having good relation with all its neighbours on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect. Development and prosperity of the region and its people would remain elusive without peace and inter-connectivity, he added.

“I am confident that future hold great promise for further strengthening of our bilateral relations and Pakistan looks forward to welcoming German Chancellor Merkel to Pakistan at an early date,” he added.

To a question about the German reservations on the death penalty to criminals, he said Pakistan was still facing tough situation due to terrorism.

He said infrastructure and communication system of Haqqani Network had been dismantled and it was yet unverified as wherefrom terrorist activities are carried out.

Sartaj Aziz said the government had launched an indiscriminate operation against the criminal elements throughout the country and it was yielding positive results.

He said the military and political leadership were moving ahead with coordinated efforts and that he had never seen such a close coordination.

In his remarks, German Foreign Minister said Germany attached great importance to its ties with Pakistan and thousands of the students studying in Germany contributed to further strengthening these ties.

He said Pakistan had boldly taken the challenge of fighting against terrorism and sacrificed a lot in this struggle including the civilians and the armed forces personnel.

He hailed Pakistan’s brave efforts to eliminate terrorism and said the absolute success is only possible with the concerted efforts of the international community.

He also called for Pakistan’s enhanced role in Afghan reconciliation process and lauded Pakistan’s effort to improve the national economy.

He urged the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to overcome the obstacles, hindering the reconciliation process and said that the process was initiated after both sides had shown willingness in this regard.

To a question, he said historically, Germany had been opposed to death penalty and also asked the United Nations to ban the capital punishment globally. However, he said Pakistan has different opinion on the issue, owing to the prevailing situation in the country.

About Pakistan-India dialogue process, he said Jammu and Kashmir was a pressing issue between Pakistan and India it was important for both the countries to return to talks.