Only political settlement will bring peace to Afghanistan: Pakistan

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Maleeha Lodhi

UNITED NATIONS: Peace in war-torn Afghanistan can only be achieved through negotiations and reconciliation, not by the continuing resort to military force, as the two approaches are “incompatible”, a top Pakistani diplomat has told the U.N. General Assembly.
“The promotion of a political settlement and the pursuit of a military solution in Afghanistan are mutually incompatible,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, said while speaking in a debate on the situation Afghanistan on Monday.
Pursuing both those options would lead to more suffering and deep instability, she added.
Pakistan has consistently proposed a political settlement as the most viable course to end the conflict and suffering in Afghanistan, Ambassador Lodhi said, adding that Islamabad was ready to help in promoting a peace dialogue.
In stressing the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan, the Pakistani envoy pointed out that sixteen years of war, waged by the world’s most powerful forces, have not secured a military solution.
“Neither the Coalition and Kabul, nor the Afghan Taliban, can impose a military solution on each other,” she told the 193-member Assembly.
While the international community had a role to play in promoting peace in Afghanistan, the solution must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, the Pakistani envoy said, while highlighting Pak-Afghan religious and cultural bonds.
Pakistan, she said, remains ready to help in promoting such a dialogue, noting that it’s participation in every regional and international initiative for peace and reconciliation was a testament to this commitment.
Pakistan had continued to engage in all processes designed to promote a political solution — the Heart of Asia, 6+1, International Contact Group, Quadrilateral Coordination Group, Moscow Format, and the Kabul process.
The Pakistani envoy also called on the Taliban to abandon violence and come to the negotiating table.
“Progress however will be assured only when the Afghan parties themselves conclude that there is no military solution to the Afghan war, and peace can be achieved only through an unconditional dialogue.”
At the outset, Ambassador Lodhi said that apart from the Afghan people, Pakistani citizens had suffered the most from decades of war and violence in Afghanistan. Pakistan had also offered unprecedented hospitality and support to the Afghan people, hosting some three million refugees over the years.
Unfortunately, she said, the security situation in Afghanistan had significantly deteriorated, with increasing numbers of civilian casualties. “There is no justification for the indiscriminate attacks against women, children and men,” she stressed.
Terrorist groups posed a clear and present danger for Afghanistan and the region, the Pakistani envoy added, underscoring the nexus between terrorism and drug trafficking. The protracted conflict had also prevented the region from recognizing its potential.
Pakistan had conducted the largest anti‘terrorism campaign in the world at its border, and in doing so had paid a heavy price, she said, adding that more than 27,000 Pakistanis, including thousands of soldiers, had been killed.
“We have a long border which is not easy to control, she emphasized, noting various ways Pakistan was securing, strengthening and reinforcing security measures that include monitoring and controlling the border for effective management.
Such measures can play a vital role in stopping the cross-border movement of terrorists., Ambassador Lodhi said, hoping that the Afghan Government would respond positively.
Pakistan, she said, envisages a future of even closer economic cooperation with Afghanistan, actively promoting the TAPI gas pipeline and the CASA 1000 project aimed at addressing the energy needs of the region. – APP

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