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Daily Times

Published Date: Sep 5, 2013

Pakistan assures support to peace process in Afghanistan

The Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs
Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday assured the international community that
Pakistan was committed to working with Afghanistan and regional and
international partners to promote the common goals of peace, stability
and prosperity in the region and beyond.

Addressing a seminar
organised by the East West Institute "Afghanistan Reconnected: Linking
energy suppliers to consumers in Asia" the adviser said a 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,” he added.

He said the two countries 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). He said
Afghanistan has invited Pakistan for a joint investment in the Kunar
Hydropower project whose design and feasibility have been completed. He
said the project will produce 1,500 MW electricity to be shared by the
two countries.

Aziz said Pakistan and Afghanistan would pursue
with World Bank the early finalisation of 170km Torkham-Jalalabad new
rail link connecting Peshawar with Jalalabad. He said the two countries
are also working on 11.5km Chaman-Spinbolduk rail link that ultimately
connects Chaman with Kandahar. "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," he added.

Aziz said Pakistan is keen to continue working
with Afghanistan in pursuit of connectivity and energy projects linking
Pakistan with Central Asia. In this context, he said discussions are
also continuing on extending APTTA to Tajikistan by finalising the
Tripartite Agreement under consideration of the three sides. 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.

He said support of the
international community for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development
is crucial for reinforcing the efforts for peace and reconciliation. "We believe the Tokyo Conference is a step in the right direction in
meeting Afghanistan’s development needs in the coming years." He said
that 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 the
country, worth $330 million.

He said 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’. These projects hold
substantial economic advantages for Afghanistan, in addition to speeding
up its own reconstruction and development efforts, he added. The
adviser 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.

He said next year’s political
transition, through successful conclusion of the presidential and
provincial council elections, would also be an important factor. He said
Afghanistan would require financial support, including investment in
its infrastructure and institutional development, including health,
education and human resource development.