ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that Pakistan welcomes a quadrilateral initiative to restart the Afghan reconciliation and peace process.
He categorically stated that Islamabad will not allow its territory to be used by any individual or group to commit acts of terrorism in Afghanistan or elsewhere, and expects the same commitment from Afghanistan and other countries. “Besides facilitating reconciliation, Pakistan is also prepared to hold serious discussions on better border management so that cross border movement of terrorists can be contained. It is important to finalise border SOPs as early as possible, Nawaz Sharif said.
In a statement issued on Tuesday following a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Paris on Monday, the prime minister said he had a most useful meeting with President Ashraf Ghani in Paris where they both were attending the Paris Climate Change Conference. They had the opportunity to discuss issues of interest to both our nations, with particular focus on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan attaches the highest importance to its relations with Afghanistan. “Our peoples are bound by centuries old political, cultural and economic ties. Pakistan is convinced that peace in Afghanistan is essential for peace and stability in the region. Pakistan has, therefore, supported, and will continue to support peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan” Nawaz Sharif said.
He said Pakistan believes that terrorism and extremism is the common enemy of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and during the meeting they affirmed that the terrorists threatening peace in Afghanistan are no friends of Pakistan, and vice versa. Nawaz Sharif said it is important that both countries take steps to ensure that terrorist groups are not allowed any sanctuaries on the soil of either country. He said Pakistan has vowed to act against all terrorists and noted that there are no good or bad terrorists.
The prime minister said there are two broad approaches to handle instability in Afghanistan: the military option or negotiated peace process. Pakistan believes that the use of force alone may not achieve peace in Afghanistan. On the other hand, a robust and meaningful reconciliation process, if pursued seriously, has better prospects of establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan. The prime minister said it was in this spirit that Pakistan engaged in sincere efforts to facilitate an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process. The July 7 meeting in Murree was not only productive but also brightened the prospects for a reduction of violence in Afghanistan, he elaborated.
He said Pakistan does not believe in any blame game, and instead would like to make renewed efforts to resurrect the peace and reconciliation process. “Since it has to be an Afghan-led process, we are confident that the Afghan government and the Taliban would step forward with concrete ideas and proposals and engage in meaningful reconciliation talks. Pakistan is prepared to extend its full support and assistance in promoting any such initiative,” he said.
Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan believes that the US and China, which were associated with Murree reconciliation process, are vital partners in this process. Pakistan would also welcome the support of other friendly powers in this endeavour. Pakistan would, therefore, welcome a quadrilateral initiative to restart the reconciliation process. To this end, he said, the forthcoming meeting of Heart of Asia – Istanbul process, to be held in Islamabad on December 9, provides a welcome opportunity to evolve a common roadmap for result oriented reconciliation in Afghanistan. He said he was looking forward to the visit of President Ashraf Ghani to Islamabad, for jointly inaugurating the December Heart of Asia meeting.