WASHINGTON: Pakistan is determined to completely eliminate terrorism and extremism from its soil, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said here while rejecting any misconception about the country’s commitment in fighting this menace.
Addressing a function organized in Los Angles by the World Affairs Council, Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s efforts to achieve security have started at home.
“Misconceptions that Pakistan is not as focused in fighting terrorism as it should be are surprising,” Chaudhry said. “I can assure you that after having incurred over 50,000 casualties including over 5000 soldiers, there are no two views in Pakistan.”
The Foreign Secretary told the distinguished audience that terrorist networks have been identified as key adversary and the government does not intend to relent until they are rooted out.
“We are determined not only to eliminate completely the menace of terrorism and extremism from our country, but also would not allow our territory to be used by anyone to commit terrorism anywhere in the world,” Chaudhry said and added that Pakistan expected the same commitment from its neighbors and others.
He said that security challenges in South Asia were not unique only to a single country and the solution too cannot be pinned on a single country. Terrorism and illicit networks today thrive across regions and cultures and a victory to be enduring would have to be rooted in shared commitment and shared responsibility, he added.
It was this spirit, the secretary added, that brought international community to Islamabad last December for the Heart of Asia meeting. He said the results have been most encouraging.
“We have restarted the stalled process of reconciliation in Afghanistan and are on way to revive dialogue with India. The US role in this process has been immensely helpful.”
Chaudhry reiterated that peace and stability in Afghanistan was central to bringing peace in the region. He said Pakistan’s leadership has reached out to Afghan leaders with firm resolve to work together in pursuit of shared objective of bringing lasting peace in Afghanistan and our region.
“We, therefore, fully support an Afghan owned and led reconciliation that could lead to enduring peace,” he said while adding that a successful reconciliation in Afghanistan can provide stimulus for managing other intractable issues that directly or indirectly contribute to instability such as return of millions of Afghan refugees, narcotics and cross-border terrorist networks.
Pakistan is pleased that the United States and China are partners in the efforts to promote reconciliation in Afghanistan, he said. Recently held quadrilateral meetings provide us hope and we are pursuing peace vigorously.
The Secretary expressed the hope that the international community will stay engaged with the socio-economic development of Afghanistan and not turn a page as it did in the past.
He said Pakistan and the United States also remain in contact to deal with new and emerging threats. “On its part, Pakistan is determined to exercise zero tolerance for violent extremism as demonstrated by the ISIL. We are equally determined to work with our Afghan brothers to ensure that our region is safe from this phenomenon.”
The Secretary said that the US remains Pakistan’s critical partner and there is strong and enduring basis for this partnership to continue in the future. He said both Pakistan and the US wish to strengthen economic connectivity between south and central Asia.
“We have strong convergences in fighting terrorism and working together to stop the spread of violent extremism espoused by the ISIL. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is in our mutual interest and both countries stand to gain from the benefits accruing from a stable and secure region,” he added.
On ties with India, the Foreign Secretary stated that Pakistan wishes to normalize its relationship with India. “Our sense of a normalized relationship includes trade normalization, people-to-people exchanges as these normally exist between countries, bilateral mechanisms for nuclear risk reduction, confidence building, crises management and conflict resolution.”
Pakistan, he added, has made consistent overtures to India to start the dialogue process, which could help both the countries embark on a journey for a healthy and normal relationship to resolve our all outstanding issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Foreign Secretary noted that it was encouraging that the leaderships of Pakistan and India have maintained contacts to help establish good neighborly relations. “We hope to create an environment wherein both countries can address their respective concerns through sustained engagement.” …APP