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Pakistan following no-interference policy in Afghanistan: Sartaj

19 December, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: Winding up a debate on foreign policy, Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Wednesday that peace in neighbourhood is the top priority of government for which the prime minister had visited both India and Afghanistan.

He informed the Upper House of Parliament that Pakistan is following the policy of non-interference in Afghanistan and not of fighting proxy wars.

He further said that Pakistan has no favourites in Afghanistan and its policy of non-interference in Afghanistan affairs has helped improve bilateral relations. The adviser said that Pakistan is in favour of Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

He said 2014 presents both challenges and opportunities for Afghanistan and three kinds of transition – political, economic and security. The issue of the Bilateral Security Agreement and residual presence of ISAF forces after 2014, he said, was still in the process of being sorted out.

The adviser said that the concept of Afghanistan as a strategic depth has become "totally outdated" and needs no more importance. He said that strategic depth means nothing both for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

About a resolution against execution of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh leader Abdul Qader Molla, the adviser said that parliament is sovereign and could pass a resolution.

In the context of Indo-Pak relations, he said that ties between the two countries had improved to a great extent, adding that besides CBMs, a backdoor diplomacy channel is working to bring both the neighbours closer. He said that the government was working on strengthening and broadening economic and strategic relations with neighbours, keeping in view post-2014 situation when US forces would leave Afghanistan.

About US drone attacks, he said that the UNGA is going to pass a resolution against the drone attacks inside Pakistan, which is a great success on the diplomatic front. About the stalled talks with Taliban fugitives, he said that the government is pursuing the option of dialogue as "priority number one" and if it failed there are other options which would be exercised as last resort.

He further said that for the first time, both civilian and military leadership have tried to formulate a consensus policy by taking all the stakeholders onboard, as Pakistan believes in a policy which best serves its interests.

Earlier, Senator Zahid Khan of the ANP criticised Imran Khan for blocking NATO supply line, saying that the PTI chief is running Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by sitting in Punjab like Ranjeeth Singh.

He said that after being failed to cope with the situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Imran is now trying to go back to Punjab and this is the reason he had announced to hold a protest in Lahore, giving the impression as everything is all right in KP.

Earlier, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Leader of Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan indulged in a blame-game over the "economic mess" Pakistan is in today. The House witnessed chaotic proceedings when the finance minister said he was correcting "serious economic wrongs" committed by the previous government of PPP, a claim that was rejected by the opposition leader.

The appointment of prime minister's daughter, Maryam Nawaz, as head of the Rs 100 billion Youth Business Loan Scheme was also criticised by the opposition leader, who said that her only qualification for the office was her being the daughter of Nawaz Sharif.

He added the prime minister's brother, Shahbaz Sharif, was Punjab's chief minister and also "taking care of foreign policy".

End.

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