At UN, Pakistan affirms commitment to back Afghan-led peace process

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

UNITED NATIONS, March 20 (APP): Pakistan told the UN Security Council Tuesday that it was committed to an Afghan-led reconciliation process, as Afghanistan moves to assume full responsibility in most areas by 2014, the year U.S. troops are set to withdraw.

"As they (the Afghan people) move towards this destination, Pakistan will remain their committed and steadfast partner," Pakistan UN Ambassador Masood Khan said during the course of a debate on the situation in Afghanistan.

"What we need most is faith in each other and a vision for common future," he said in his speech.

Pakistan, he added, was committed to ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the wider region. Afghanistan was on the cusp of three transitions dealing with political and security matters; if they were managed successfully and comprehensively, the war-torn country would see the dawn of a new era.

The tide seemed to be turning, he said, adding his Government was pleased to see positive developments on several fronts, despite continuing challenges. Yet, the expectations must remain realistic: “If there are temporary setbacks, we must stay the course,” he said, expressing the hope that not only would the international community remain engaged, but that such engagement would be based on ground realities and the priorities of the Afghan authorities.

Pakistan’s engagement was driven by the belief that the two countries had a shared destiny, the ambassador said. It was strengthening the trilateral mechanism to ensure more effective work with Afghanistan on socio-economic development matters. Pakistan was also setting up a joint, ministerial-level mechanism to strengthen the border between the two countries, specifically targeting all illegal activities. Indeed, such activity would decrease dramatically if interdiction measures on both sides were enhanced.

Masood Khan that Pakistan also supported the efforts of the High Peace Council to promote national reconciliation and welcomed the travel ban exemption included in the Council’s previous resolution, which had helped strengthen the process.

While Afghanistan’s international partners had an important role in ensuring that all stakeholders were committed to progress on reconciliation, only the people of that country could craft a road map that would lead to a stable and secure future.

The Pakistani envoy also called for efforts to disrupt the “heinous narrative” of terrorist groups, masquerading as ideology. Such groups did not represent Islam or Muslims.

He drew the Council’s attention to the fact that Pakistan’s drug control measures were “stretched” and it was trying to develop a regional strategy to interdict drug traffickers. In that effort it was working to establish a regional contact group.

Masood Khan also noted that the spotlight on political and security issues often eclipsed the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and to that end, he called for more measures to ensure the refugee return strategy was implemented in a timely manner.