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Pakistan ready to assist in Afghan owned peace process: Maleeha Lodhi

01 December, 2015

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NEW YORK - Pakistan ready to assist in reviving an Afghan-led and Afghan’s owned peace process, but the Kabul government lacks a unified policy on the undertaking, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UN General Assembly on Monday.

At the same time, the Pakistani envoy underscored the need for ceasing “the anti-Pakistan rhetoric from Kabul”. Taking part in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan, she said that the Afghan government needs to bridge its internal differences, reinforce its unity and clarify its policy regarding the peace process.

The ambassador also pointed out that the internal struggle within the Afghan Taliban had made the revival of the peace process far more difficult, and that their further fragmentation could intensify the insurgency and possibly even enable the rise of the Islamic State militant group.

“Without an acknowledgement by both sides that there is no alternative path to peace in Afghanistan than an unconditional dialogue, it will be difficult to revive the peace process.” she said that Pakistan will do its part for the resumption of the peace process when the Afghan government makes a formal request.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated this to Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani when they met earlier today in Paris,” the ambassador told the 193-member Assembly. Ambassador Maleeha voiced concern over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and said that the recent military developments in Kunduz had illustrated the vulnerabilities of the Afghan Security Forces and their continued reliance on the international military presence.

“It would be best for the Afghan government to resolutely tackle these weaknesses rather than externalise its internal problems.” There were two paths to peace in Afghanistan: a military victory, which had proved elusive for 14 years, or a negotiated peace, which was the only viable option to bring peace, stability and development to the country, the Pakistani envoy said.

There could be no doubt regarding Pakistan’s sincerity in seeking peace within and with Afghanistan, she said, adding that it was Pakistan and its people who had suffered the most from the 35 years of wars, violence and terrorism in Afghanistan. Pakistan was mounting Zarb-e-Azb military operation, the largest and most effective anti-terrorism campaign, in the world to root out the scourge of terrorism from its territory. That process would be complete only after the sanctuaries and safe havens of terrorists who had fled Pakistan’s operation had been eliminated.

“When Pakistan initiated its counter-terrorism operation in North Waziristan, we called for coordinated action from Kabul to prevent their escape into Afghanistan and resort to cross border attacks from Afghan territory,” the ambassadoir said. “We have not received such cooperation so far. I would like to reiterate our call for such cooperation again from this podium.”

She said that Pakistan remains committed to the principles of peace for development and a peaceful neighborhood. Turning to the issue of refugees, she said that those who were erecting barricades against refugees from Syria and other conflict zones should not expect Pakistan to host more than 3 million Afghans indefinitely and without international support.

Pakistan stood ready to resume the positive momentum from last year after President Ghani’s inauguration. “We must build our common destiny in accordance with the wishes of our people.”

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