Pakistan assures support to peace process in Afghanistan
05 September, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday assured the international community that Pakistan was committed to working 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 organised by the East West Institute "Afghanistan Reconnected: Linking energy suppliers to consumers in Asia" the adviser 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 Hydropower project whose design and feasibility have been completed. He said the project will produce 1,500 MW electricity to be shared by the two countries.
Aziz said Pakistan and Afghanistan would pursue with World Bank the early finalisation of 170km Torkham-Jalalabad new rail link connecting Peshawar with Jalalabad. He said the two countries are also working on 11.5km Chaman-Spinbolduk rail link that ultimately connects Chaman with Kandahar. "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.
Aziz 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 finalising 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. "We believe the Tokyo Conference is a step in the right direction in meeting Afghanistan's development needs in the coming years." He said that despite its limited resources, Pakistan has been extending support to Afghanistan's reconstruction and development through contributions primarily to education, health and infrastructure projects in the country, worth $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 adviser 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.