Pakistan committed to providing fullest cooperation: FM Hina
09 July, 2012
TOKYO: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Sunday said that Pakistan was committed to providing fullest cooperation to Afghanistan to help it steer through the transition period and beyond.
The foreign minister, in her statement at the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan, said, "We have pledged an amount of $300 million for the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan."
She said now that Afghanistan was to move from transition into the transformation decade within the next two years, it was indeed timely for the international community to discuss sustainable development and self-reliance in Afghanistan.
She said, "We are convinced and we know from history that political stability and economic progress are inter-dependent. The goal of long-term political and economic stability in Afghanistan requires dealing with the issue in a holistic manner."
An intra-Afghan consensus with continued support of neighbours, the region and the wider international community are essential in the same order of priority and ownership, she said, adding, "The Tokyo conference on Sunday is reflective of our collective efforts towards realising this shared objective."
The minister said Pakistan wanted a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
"This is vital for our own peace and security. This, as I said in Kabul, is a core national interest for Pakistan," she stressed.
"At the bilateral level, our engagement with Afghanistan is focused on deepening cooperation in diverse fields, including security, peace and reconciliation, trade, transit, education, health, energy and infrastructure development in a way as to effectively contribute towards the goal of long-term stability in Afghanistan."
She recalled that the recent formalisation of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (TTA) and the continuation of Afghan transit trade even while NATO supply routes remained locked showed Pakistan's abiding commitment to strong bilateral relations with Afghanistan.
She mentioned that Pakistan's financial assistance of $300 million for Afghanistan would be spent on projects in health, education and infrastructure such as Torkham-Jalalabad Road, Nishter Kidney Centre Jalalabad, Jinnah Hospital in Kabul, Engineering University in Balkh and Rehman Baba School in Kabul.
Moreover, Pakistan has offered 2,000 scholarships to Afghan students to study in Pakistani educational institutions. More than half of these scholarships have already been availed. In addition, around 7,000 Afghan students are studying in Pakistani universities and professional colleges. So far, 30,000 Afghans have graduated from Pakistani universities, she enumerated.
Khar announced Pakistan's new programme of commitments for Afghanistan in the post-2014 phase.
She said another 1,000 scholarships would be provided to Afghan students. Pakistan would offer capacity building programmes in the areas of banking, finance, telecommunications and several other areas after due consultation with the Afghan government.
"We will undertake the construction of 25 basic health units and 25 schools. Thus, contributing to Afghan children's education and health and reaffirming Pakistan's commitment to the development of the Afghan people."
Pakistan is currently hosting more than three million Afghan refugees, only 1.7 million registered and the rest undocumented and any future arrangements in Afghanistan must also focus on the question of the return of these refugees, she noted.
The minister said peace and stability in Afghanistan was contingent upon a commitment by regional countries not to use Afghan soil to destabilising its neighbours.
She pointed that infrastructure projects linking border areas of the two countries needed special attention.
"Economic development in border areas will help address the problems of terrorism."
Projects like TAPI, CASA-1000 as well as rail and road connections can change the destiny of this region. Regional connectivity must remain a priority, she asserted.
"We in Pakistan are optimistic that the sincere and committed efforts of the international community will help build a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan which is vital for the security and stability of its neighbourhood, the region and even the whole world. On our part, we remain committed to this shared objective," she concluded.