NEW YORK: At the United Nations, Pakistan called for support to a peace process between the Afghan Government and the Afghan insurgency that can bring the war to a political end.
Speaking in the Security Council debate on Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi said that the Secretary-General has affirmed the strong international consensus that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has long advocated this.
She also called upon the Taliban to shed violence and agree to resume talks in one or more negotiating formats. “An agreed de-escalation of the conflict and a negotiated settlement offers the best chance to end the suffering of the Afghan people and restore peace and tranquility within Afghanistan and the region”, Ambassador Lodhi said.
She reiterated what Pakistan’s Prime Minister had stated in the General Assembly last week, “What Pakistan is not prepared to do is fight the Afghan war on Pakistan’s soil.” The Pakistani envoy also said: “We cannot endorse any strategy that has repeatedly failed in the past and would only prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of Afghanistan as well further destabilize the entire region”.
Ambassador Lodhi outlined three components of a strategy that she argued could restore peace in Afghanistan, namely, a coordinated effort to contain and defeat Daesh and Al Qaeda and their associates, including the TTP, JUA, ETIM and IMU; a sustained dialogue between the Afghan Government and Afghan Taliban and other insurgents willing to negotiate a peaceful settlement and effective measures to prevent cross border attacks by terrorists and militants from or to Afghanistan.
The fundamental sources of insecurity in Afghanistan lie inside and not outside, Ambassador Lodhi said and pointed out that the Afghan government would be better advised to focus more seriously on its persisting challenges and embark on a course correction. Ambassador Lodhi warned the Council about Daesh’s expanding reach in Afghanistan, including in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces and its increased influence in the northern and western provinces. “These are worrying signs for Afghan security and for regional stability”, she remarked.
She said that the more than 20 terrorist organizations operating from its soil has been acknowledged by Afghan government, including the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jamaat Ul Ahrar. “These organizations are conducting terrorist attacks inside Pakistan and pose a threat to Afghanistan’s other neighbors”, she added. Urging the Afghan Government and Coalition forces to take decisive action to eliminate terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan, she said that Pakistan continues to face terrorist attacks from across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border conducted by the TTP, JUA and IS-related groups.
Pakistan, she said, has supported all regional and international efforts to promote a peaceful settlement to the internal conflict in Afghanistan and added, “We will continue to do so”. Ambassador Lodhi told the 15 member council that Pakistan has fought a successful war against terrorism. “Our military operations, involving over 200,000 troops, have crushed and eliminated terrorist groups in our frontier regions and our towns and cities. We have paid a heavy price: 27,000 civilians and soldiers have been martyred; 50,000 injured. Our economic losses are estimated at $120 billion”.
Pakistan expressed its commitment to extending all possible assistance to Afghan brothers and sisters, including by facilitating the transit of Afghanistan’s imports and exports through our ports, helping in construction of infrastructure projects through the utilization of the 500 million dollar commitment we made in Brussels and extending our assistance to the Afghan forces in securing their country.
Pakistan, Ambassador Lodhi said, has struggled together with the Afghan people to uphold their freedom from foreign occupation and intervention. “We strongly support Afghanistan’s sovereignty. We strongly oppose its use in geo-political power games” She concluded by commenting that while others can afford to orchestrate a proxy war to destabilize Afghanistan and its neighbors, for Pakistan a stable Afghanistan is vital for our own peace, stability and progress.