ISLAMABAD: Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Monday said Pakistan was committed to continue serious efforts for long-term peace and stability in the country.
He was inaugurating the first meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Committee on Afghan peace process in Islamabad. Representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States are participating in the meeting.
Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan valued its brotherly and neighbourly relations with Afghanistan.
He pointed out that the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia in Islamabad last month provided impetus to our quest for lasting peace in Afghanistan. The meeting on the sidelines of the conference between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ashraf Ghani as well as quadrilateral interaction among Pakistan, Afghanistan, US and China reflected important consensus on the way forward on Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
The advisor said on 27th of last month, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif visited Afghanistan and had useful interaction with the Afghan side for strengthening the security and counter-terrorism cooperation through intelligence sharing and facilitating the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
He said the meeting of the Quadrilateral Groups has a great significance. He said the foremost task of the Group is to define the overall direction of the reconciliation process along with goals and targets to set with a view to creating conducive environment for holding directing talks between Afghan Government and Taliban groups.
The advisor expressed the confidence that the meeting will be able to evolve an efficient procedural framework to provide the basis for smooth functioning of the group.
Meanwhile, the 3rd China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral dialogue titled “Quest for peace in Afghanistan: Role of neighbouring countries” was held in Islamabad.
In his keynote address, Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said close cooperation at bilateral and regional levels is pre-requisite for elimination of terrorism. He said the government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is pursuing policy of good neighbourly relations for creating an atmosphere of trust with all regional countries. He said respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries are basic elements of our approach.
Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan desired sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The advisor said Pakistan, Afghanistan and China are three close neighbours having common interests and stakes in promoting peace and development in the region. He said peace process in Afghanistan has to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned as an externally imposed settlement is neither desirable nor it would be sustainable. The role of Pakistan, China and the United States is basically to facilitate the process.
He said we are looking forward to the mega China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC) to become the catalyst for trans-regional commerce, trade, industry and investment flows. Similarly, the projects like TAPI and CASA-1000 will help fulfill our energy needs and build a stronger regional infra-structural base.
He said Pakistan is undertaking a number of bilateral projects in Afghanistan in the field of health, education and infrastructure development. Around 2,500 Afghan students are studying in Pakistani universities under Prime Minister’s scholarship scheme.
Sartaj Aziz said terrorism is a major threat to global and regional peace. He pointed out that counter-terrorism policy is based on zero tolerance for any terrorist group or outfit. He said indiscriminate action against the terrorist outfits in Zarb-e-Azb is un-refutable evidence of our strong conviction.
He said we believe that close cooperation at bilateral and regional levels is vital to eliminate terrorism and realize our shared goal of economic integration and connectivity.