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National Turk

Published Date: Sep 4, 2013

Pakistan assures support to Afghanistan peace process as NATO oil supplies resumes

Pakistan government has assured full support to peace
process in Afghanistan while oil supplies to NATO troops fighting Taliban
insurgency in Afghanistan resumed through Pakistan after four months on
Wednesday.

“Peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is in
Pakistan’s vital national interest. We remain committed to supporting efforts
for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan in an inclusive, Afghan-owned and
Afghan-led process,” said Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister on
National Security and Foreign Affairs while addressing a seminar organized by
East West Institute titled, “Afghanistan Reconnected: Linking energy suppliers
to consumers in Asia”.

He said Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed to work together
in a number of energy and connectivity projects besides reaffirming their
commitment to further strengthen trade ties under the Afghanistan-Pakistan
Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).

‘Afghanistan-Pakistan region has immense natural resources’

“Our region is blessed with immense potentials in terms of
natural resources, which if tapped efficiently can yield benefits to the entire
region and Afghanistan occupies an important position in the region, straddling
Central, West and South Asia,” Aziz said adding Pakistan is keen to continue
working with Afghanistan in pursuit of connectivity and energy projects linking
Pakistan with Central Asia.

He said Afghanistan has invited Pakistan for a joint
investment in Kunar Hydro Power project whose design and feasibility have been
completed.  “The project will produce 1500 MW electricity to be shared by
the two countries”.

He said as a country struggling to emerge out of decades of
instability, Afghanistan is expected to face serious challenges, which can be
overcome through a sustained effort involving financial and technical support,
infrastructure and human resources.

“The support of the international community for
Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development is crucial for reinforcing the
efforts for peace and reconciliation, Aziz said adding Pakistan believes Tokyo
Conference is a step in the right direction in meeting Afghanistan’s
development needs in the coming years.

Aziz said despite its limited resources, Pakistan has been
extending support to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development through
contributions primarily to education, health and infrastructure projects in
Afghanistan, worth US$ 330 million.

‘Location makes Afghanistan a connector’

Stating that Afghanistan is ideally located to connect
energy suppliers and users in its neihbourhood and beyond, he said,
“Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India gas pipeline (TAPI) and
Central Asia South Asia (CASA-1000) are two such examples of projects which
make Afghanistan a ‘connector’.”

He said these projects hold substantial economic advantages
for Afghanistan, in addition to speeding up its own reconstruction and
development efforts.

Aziz said successful security transition by the end of
December 2014, and assumption of full responsibility for peace and stability by
the Afghan National Security Force and Afghan National Army would help the
country prepare a helpful environment for the pursuit and development of energy
and connectivity projects. “The next year’s political transition, through
successful conclusion of the Presidential and Provincial Council elections
would also be an important factor.”

Afghanistan has been subject to militants and Taliban
attacks for over a decade. These have increased as NATO countries are in the
process of withdrawing their 130,000 troops ahead of the 2014 deadline.

Oil supply to NATO from Pakistan resumed after 4 months

In a related development Pakistani contractors today resumed
overland oil supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani contractors had stopped driving oil supplies
from Karachi on the Arabian Sea to the Torkham crossing on Afghan border in
June due to frequent attacks on their vehicles.

“We have resumed the oil supplies from today after hiring he
services of a private security firm,” a contractor said.

Sources said Pakistani government has also asked
paramilitary Frontier Corps to escort to oil tankers safely to Afghanistan.

Pakistan is a key transit route for NATO mission in
conflict-hit Afghanistan.

From November 2011 to July 2012, Pakistan shut its Afghan
border to all overland NATO traffic after US air raids killed 24 Pakistani
troops. However, after consultations at highest level, Pakistan government
lifted the embargo and allowed passage of NATO trucks to Afghanistan from its
territory.

Pakistan and US have signed a deal allowing NATO convoys to
travel into Afghanistan till the end of 2015.

The militants have frequently attacked NATO containers in
Pakistan.