UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has told the UN Security Council that fundamental sources of insecurity in Afghanistan lie inside, not outside, given the fact that more than 20 terrorist organizations operate in that war-torn country.
“The Afghan government would be better advised to focus more seriously on its persisting challenges and embark on a course correction,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, said during a debate on the situation in Afghanistan.
Rejecting Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani’s insinuations that terrorism and violent extremism in Afghanistan were allegedly the product of Pakistan’s long-standing policy of keeping Afghanistan unstable, she said her country has a “vital stake” in building peace and security in the neighbouring nation.
The Pakistani envoy said that Da’esh was expanding its reach, a worrying sign for Afghanistan, but also for its immediate neighbours, while pointing out that many of the more than 20 terrorist organizations operating on Afghan were conducting terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.
Wars and turmoil in Afghanistan over the past four decades had afflicted the region with extremism and terrorism, Ambassador Lodhi said, noting that Pakistan continued to bear the brunt. The flow of terrorists, narcotics and refugees had severely impacted the country and stunted its growth.
Pakistan had fought “a very successful war against terrorism”, having crushed and eliminated terrorists on its towns and cities, she said, recalling that some 27,000 civilians and soldiers had been martyred. The economic loss to Pakistan had been estimated at $120 billion.
Reiterating that Pakistan unfortunately continued to bear the brunt of terrorist organizations operating in safe havens inside Afghanistan, the Pakistani envoy urged the Afghan government and Coalition forces to take decisive action to eliminate these terrorist safe haves in Afghanistan. On its part, Pakistan had strengthened border controls.
Nevertheless, she said Afghanistan must do more to end such attacks. There was need to support a peace process between the Government and the Afghan insurgency, she said, adding that peace could only be realized through negotiations.
“An intra-Afghan dialogue can succeed only if the Afghan Government itself endorses the global consensus that peace can be achieved only through negotiations and not by the force of arms,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
Pakistan called upon the Taliban to end the violence and agree to talks, she said, stressing that what her country was not prepared to do was fight Afghanistan’s war on its own soil, as stated by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Pakistan also would not approve any strategy that had failed in the past and that would continue to destabilize the region.
A coordinated effort to contain and defeat Da’esh was critical, she said, emphasizing the need to promote dialogue with insurgents willing to negotiate.
The bonds of religion, history and culture between Afghanistan and Pakistan were strong and would survive any episode of external manipulation and intervention, the Pakistani envoy added.
Opening the debate, the top United Nations envoy in Afghanistan said although efforts over the past few years to reach a political solution to the Afghan conflict have led to little progress, there was a renewed interest in political engagements for peace.
“I am convinced that a political settlement is possible,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, told the 15-nation Council in his latest briefing, citing progress, still daunting challenges, and opportunities for political engagement.
“We should not let another fighting season begin without progress towards substantive negotiations. Opportunities will be lost, with the cost paid in thousands of Afghan lives and at tremendous financial cost.
“I appeal to the countries in the region to conduct a profound reassessment of their strategic interest and renew work towards a viable peace process leading to an Afghan-owned solution to the conflict. If requested, the United Nations stands ready to assist all parties to achieve this goal.
Yamamoto said the United States announcement in August of a continuing, conditions-based commitment has removed some uncertainties, while regional countries and key States are actively seeking to promote regional engagements for peace, adding that preparations leading to a peace process are complex and efforts must be pragmatic and flexible.—APP