'We have no favourites in Afghanistan': Sartaj Aziz tells SCO members in Tashkent

November 30, 2013 2:08 AM

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Adivso­r to PM says govt is pursui­ng peace talks becaus­e 'terror­ism cannot be elimin­ated by milita­ry means alone'.

TASHKENT: Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz addressed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) here on Friday, saying that Pakistan was fully an Afghan-led peace process in the region and that the Pakistani government had “no favourites in Afghanistan”, according to a press release.

“We are offering all possible assistance in facilitating an Afghan-led and an Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process,” said Aziz.

The Advisor said that the SCO must deepen its engagement with Afghanistan in the context of the upcoming withdrawal of international security forces from the country.

“Interests of Pakistan and SCO converge in Afghanistan. In the wake of drawdown of ISAF Forces, SCO needs to deepen its engagement with Afghanistan. There should be no security or economic vacuum in the country after the withdrawal of international forces. Pakistan would welcome SCO initiatives to deepen assistance for Afghanistan.”

Pakistan is currently part of the SCO as an observer state and has applied for a full membership. Sartaj Aziz on this occasion pressed for Pakistan’s admission into a full-member status.

“We also feel that Pakistan admission to full membership would secure mutual interests and achieve shared objectives.”

Aziz went on to state that his government recognised threats of terrorism and extremism plaguing the country and were fully committed to eradicating them.

“Pakistan is making significant headway in its struggle against terrorism and extremism. The people and security agencies of Pakistan have made immense sacrifice in the fight against terrorism. These sacrifices must be acknowledged.”

“We, however, recognise that terrorism cannot be eliminated by military means alone. We are, therefore, pursuing a policy of dialogue with those extremist elements willing to be engaged, to bring an end to the ongoing violence and make them a part of mainstream politics within the parameters of our constitution.”

He said the government was working for social and economic development as it believed they were also key to countering terrorism.

“Far-reaching economic reforms are helping a turn around. Our economy, in consonance with the trend across SCO region, is on the road to recovery. We remain well positioned to afford our friends in Central Asia and broader Eurasia overland access to our highways and ports.”

Sartaj Aziz voiced his immense admiration for the SCO, praising it for its ‘unified vision’ and the opportunities of inclusive growth which it presented. He said the SCO region faced challenges but those challenges could be converted into opportunities.

“Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has a unified vision, characterised by trans-regional cooperation for peace and development. It offers the right framework forinclusive and participatory approach, based on principle of equality and equity among nations large and small.

“The SCO region faces diverse challenges, which include terrorism and extremism, energy crisis, food-security environmental degration and shrinking export market due to continuing financial crisis in the Western world.

“However, these challenges can also be converted into opportunities. The SCO region has human and technical resources to counter these challenges. The region has created a framework of cooperation, in the shape of SCO, to deal collectively with common challenges. SCO regional bloc can make a valuable contribution to global peace, security and economic prosperity.”

Source: tribune.com.pk

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