India’s efforts to divide Pakistan and Afghanistan won’t go far as both the countries have strong people-to-people relationship and have been working together to stem the menace of terrorism.
Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said this on Sunday while addressing a press conference here after coming back to Islamabad from Amritsar where he attended the Heart of Asia conference.
“India’s efforts to divide Pakistan and Afghanistan on the peace initiative won’t go very far in future,” he said, adding that he attended the conference to show solidarity with Afghanistan in its efforts to fight insurgency.
Aziz said the Afghan president’s statement about Pakistan is regrettable and understandable at the same time as insurgency in Afghanistan has increased and he is also grappling with a number of other complex issues.
“His (Afghan President) statement is regrettable and understandable. One can clearly understand his anxiety. Afghanistan is passing through tough times but our commitment to Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace remains firm,” he said.
He said that both Pakistan and Afghanistan need a balanced and holistic approach for peace in Afghanistan as the situation is getting extremely complex with a number of players involved in sabotaging the peace process.
The adviser said that the Afghan president suggested a trilateral commission, consisting of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, to regulate the $500 million assistance for development work in Afghanistan.
He said that Pakistan is trying its level best for peace in Afghanistan but better border management between both the countries is key to achieve the required goals.
The adviser said that Pakistan doesn’t need to be pressured to counter terrorism as the country has done a lot in achieving the peace and in fact, has been sharing its experiences on counter terrorism with other countries as well.
Under the National Action Plan, Pakistan has already initiated action against terrorist outfits operating on its soil that includes Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamat-ul-Ahrar and Lashkar-e-Taiba etc, he said.
Sartaj Aziz termed the Heart of Asia Conference’s declaration as balanced and vowed to keep working for peace and prosperity in the region. He also termed his visit to India to participate in the conference as “wise decision and good political move.”
The adviser said that bilateral tensions of Pakistan and India should not overshadow the multilateral forums like the Heart of Asia conference.
About his meetings on the sideline of the conference, he said that he held constructive meetings with Foreign Ministers of Iran, China, Turkmenistan and others to discuss different bilateral issues.
In their formal statements, the delegates of China and Turkey lauded role and efforts of Pakistan for peace in Afghanistan, he said, adding that representatives of Iran and Turkmenistan also briefed him on the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.
“They told me that the (TAPI) project is no longer limited to supplying gas. It also includes fibre optics and electric connectivity making it a network between the countries involved,” he said.
On his meetings with the leadership of Afghanistan and India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Sartaj said he only had informal exchange of pleasantries with them as nothing substantial was discussed.
“Pakistan is open to a comprehensive dialogue with India so that trade between the two countries could improve but situation along the Line of Control has made negotiation process difficult for the two countries,” he said.
The adviser said that terrorism is just an excuse for India to divert attention from the atrocities being committed by its troops deployed in Indian-held Kashmir.