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The Frontier Post Peshawar

Published Date: Sep 3, 2013

Pakistan committed to work with regional, world partners: Sartaj

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
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 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 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.
Aziz 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
“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.
The Advisor 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 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 resources.

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

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. 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 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. He 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. He 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.

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