UNITED NATIONS: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Friday demanded an immediate action to stop drone attacks as they were a sheer violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, media reported.
“The attacks conducted by US-led NATO forces on Pakistani soil using unmanned spy planes are counter-productive to the anti-extremism efforts”, Sharif said while addressing United Nations General Assembly here in New York.
Sharif said that the war against terrorism must be waged within the framework of international law.
He added that the use of drone strikes in the border areas of Pakistan was a continued breach of the country’s territorial integrity.
“It results in casualties of innocent civilians and is detrimental to our resolve and efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism from Pakistan.”
He added that he had urged the United States to cease these strikes, so that further casualties and sufferings could be averted.
Commenting on regional situation he said that Pakistan and India had wasted “massive resources” on a nuclear arms race.
“Our two countries have wasted massive resources in an arms race,” Sharif said in his speech to the assembly. Both sides have spent huge amounts on developing a nuclear bomb over the past three decades.
“We could have used those resources for the economic well-being of our people,” he added.
“We still have that opportunity. Pakistan and India can prosper together; and the entire region would benefit from our cooperation.”
Sharif said, “We stand ready to re-engage with India in a substantive and purposeful dialogue.”
The Pakistan premier, elected this year, said he was looking forward to the chance “to make a new beginning” and added “we have a solid basis to do that.”
Sharif said Pakistan and India must build on a 1999 accord which called for the resolution of all differences through negotiations.
“I am committed to working for a peaceful and economically prosperous region. This is what our people want and this is what I have long aspired for,” Sharif said.
He pointed out that shortly after assuming office‚ he received a message of goodwill from the Indian Prime Minister.
Sharif said he had invited the Indian Prime Minister to engage with Pakistan to address all outstanding issues between the two countries, adding Indian Prime Minister’s response was positive.
Nawaz Sharif is expected to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday, on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN.
However on Kashmir, he said that suffering of the people cannot be brushed under the carpet‚ because of power politics.
He called upon the international community to give an opportunity to Kashmiris to decide their future peacefully‚ in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.
He said the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was presented to the Security Council in January 1948 and yet the issue remains unresolved after nearly seven decades.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan desired regional peace and stability adding, he said he had shared this vision with leaders in the neighborhood.
About Afghanistan‚ the Prime Minister said Pakistan supports an inclusive‚ Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process‚ leading to national reconciliation.
Prime Minister Sharif said that during President Hamid Karzai’s visit to Pakistan‚ he assured him that Pakistan did not wish to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and it had no favorites in that country.
He said Pakistan encourages UN efforts for the stabilization of Afghanistan.
“We will work together with Afghanistan for regional and economic cooperation that would establish and reinforce regional trade‚ energy and communications corridors.”
He said a manifestation of Pakistan’s solidarity with the Afghan people had been our willingness to host millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan for many decades.
Going forward he added that having been suffered grievously for the past many years Pakistan condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
“In the past 12 years‚ Pakistan has given huge sacrifices‚ in blood and resources” Sharif said.
“We have lost 40,000 precious lives including 8,000 defense and security personnel” the PM added.
He said there have been colossal damages to social and physical infrastructures as well. “Our economy has been denied the opportunity to grow fully. This must change now”, he added.
The Prime Minister said he had tried to forge national consensus on a cohesive policy to eliminate terrorism from our soil.
“We are resolved to oppose the forces of terrorism‚ by all means at our disposal”, said he.
At the same time‚ Pakistan had offered dialogue to end violence‚ wean young extremists off extremism‚ and integrate all segments of the society into the national mainstream, added Sharif.
He‚ however‚ added that a dialogue should not be seen as a sign of weakness or a tool of appeasement.
“The terrorism knows no borders. It has no religion or creed, which is why maligning a whole people or a religion on this account, is unfair and unwise”, said the Prime Minister.
He said Islam is a religion of peace, compassion and brotherhood.
“And yet most insidious form of contemporary racism in the name of religion is on the rise. Peaceful Muslim communities are profiled and subjected to discriminatory practices. Their faith, culture, holy personalities and scriptures are under attack”, he added.
Sharif said stereotyping of Muslims as extremists and terrorists must stop.
“We must all use the influence and reach of the United Nations to avert a clash of civilizations and promote harmony among followers of diverse religions, all around the world.”
“Terrorism negates Islam’s humanistic outlook and noble values. Those who perpetrate terrorism are enemies of Muslims and Islam itself”, he said.
Speaking on the Peshawar church attack, he said, “We are deeply saddened by the recent terrorist attack on the members of a minority community in Peshawar.”
He said , this heinous attack had united the entire Pakistani nation in support of our brothers and sisters of all faith in Pakistan.
“We share their grief and declared three days of mourning. This attack has been carried out by the same elements who have attacked our mosques, our shrines, innocent citizens, and members of our security forces”, he added.
This attack had further strengthened Pakistan’s resolve to deal with terrorism and extremism in a resolute and comprehensive manner.
Speaking with regard to its atomic arsenal, he said that as a responsible nuclear weapon state, Pakistan would continue to pursue the goals of disarmament and non-proliferation and adhere to the policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD), without entering into an arms race.
“We would not, however, remain oblivious to the evolving security dynamics in South Asia, nor would we agree to arrangement that is detrimental to our security and strategic interests. Our position on the proposed Fissile Material Treaty is determined by our national security interests and the objective of strategic stability in South Asia”, said he.
Safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy, without discrimination, was essential for economic development, the premier said further.
“Pakistan qualifies for full access to civil nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, to meet its growing energy needs, for continued economic growth”, he stressed.
Sharif said that by the same token, as a mainstream partner in the global non-proliferation regime, Pakistan had impeccable credentials to join the multilateral export control regime, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
“Pakistan will continue to participate constructively in the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process, which is a laudable initiative.”
The prime minister also reiterated Pakistan’s support for the Palestinian people’ss right to self-determination and statehood and expressed support for a recent international agreement aimed at placing Syrian chemical weapons under international control.
He called for a resolution of the lingering Syrian conflict.