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Business Recorder

Published Date: Sep 4, 2013

Pakistan assures support to promote peace process in Afghanistan

The Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign
Affairs Sartaj Aziz Wednesday assured the international community that
Pakistan was committed to work 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
organized by the East West Institute “Afghanistan Reconnected: Linking
energy suppliers to consumers in Asia” the Advisor said a peaceful,
stable and prosperous Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s vital national

“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).

said Afghanistan has invited Pakistan for a joint investment in the
Kunar Hydro Power project whose design and feasibility have been

He said the project will produce 1500 MW electricity to be shared by the two countries.

said Pakistan and Afghanistan would pursue with World Bank the early
finalization of 170 KM Torkham-Jalalabad new rail link connecting
Peshawar with Jalalabad.

He said the two countries are also working on 11.5 KM Chaman-Spinbolduk rail link that ultimately connects Chaman with Kandahar.

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.

The Advisor
said Pakistan is keen to continue working with Afghanistan in pursuit of
connectivity and energy projects linking Pakistan with Central Asia.

this context, he said discussions are also continuing on extending
APTTA to Tajikistan by finalizing 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

He said support of the international community for
Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development is crucial for reinforcing
the efforts for peace and reconciliation.

Sartaj Aziz said,”We
believe the Tokyo Conference is a step in the right direction in meeting
Afghanistan’s development needs in the coming years.”

He said
Pakistan despite its limited resources, 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.

He said Afghanistan is ideally located to connect energy suppliers and users in its neihbourhood and beyond.

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.

Advisor 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.

said Afghanistan would require financial support, including investment
in its infrastructure and institutional development, including health,
education and human resource development.

He said Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan are reinforced by strong bonds of a common history, religion and culture.

said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has clearly underlined the
government’s priority in terms of addressing energy needs in the short
and long term.

“We are keen on working with Afghanistan as a conduit for energy supply,” he added.

said Afghanistan has been facing conflict and instability for more than
three decades. As a neighbouring country, he said, Pakistan has
consistently faced the fall out of this situation.

He said for
over three decades, Pakistan has been host to one of the largest refugee
populations in the world, despite dwindling international support and
in spite of economic difficulties.

Aziz said about three million Afghan refugees still live in Pakistan, out of which about 1.6 million are registered.

said just last month, Pakistan has signed the Tripartite Agreement
along with Afghanistan and UNHCR extending the stay of refugees till
December 2015.

“We hope this time will be used to prepare for the return of the refugees to their homeland,” he added.

Advisor said, “We continue to believe that their early, honourable and
voluntary return, as well as sustainable reintegration, is possible if
conducive conditions are created inside Afghanistan.”

He said
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has presented a vision of a peaceful and
prosperous neigbhourhood, with stable and cooperative relations with all
neighbours including Afghanistan.

He said last week’s visit to
Pakistan by President Karzai at the invitation of the Prime Minister was
part of this vision. The visit was helpful in building trust, enhancing
mutual understanding, reaffirming the commitment to work together to
promote peace and reconciliation, and determining ways to strengthen
bilateral relations.

Sartaj Aziz said the Prime Minister also
underscored Pakistan’s desire to comprehensively upgrade the bilateral
relationship with Afghanistan, defined by a `strong trade and economic

“We envisage this partnership to be placing a strong emphasis on energy and connectivity projects,” he added.