At UN, Pakistan asks Afghanistan not to allow use of its territory for cross-border attacks

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept 15 (APP): A top Pakistani diplomat has called on Afghanistan to ensure that its territory is not used by anyone to foment terrorism, saying Pakistan continues to encounter threats from the Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) and its backers from across the border.

Speaking in the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi also asked the Afghan Government to halt its “belligerent rhetoric” in the long-term interest of their country, their people and the region.

“We stand committed to work with the Afghan government for the improvement of our relationship, on the basis of shared values,” the Pakistani envoy said in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan.

At the outset, Ambassador Lodhi joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call on the Afghan leadership to demonstrate a spirit of cooperation to achieve a meaningful peace agreement for the benefit of the Afghan people.

“Fifteen years of war, waged by the world’s most powerful forces, could not yield a military solution,” she said, adding that it was even more unlikely now.

“Nor should anyone expect that Pakistan would fight Afghanistan’s war on its soil.”

While emphasizing that Afghanistan must ensure that its territory was not used by others, Ambassador Lodhi pointed out that some of the TTP elements, who have allied themselves with Daesh, continue to enjoy the backing of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency.

“Unless peace is restored in Afghanistan, it risks emerging again as a central source of global terrorism,” she told the 15-member Council.

“The unity of the Afghan government is imperative in order for it to effectively address the multiple challenges the country faces.”

To overcome current challenges, Ambassador Lodhi said the upcoming conference in Brussels, which will be attended 70 countries and 30 international organizations, would be an opportunity to bring peace and security to Afghanistan.

While expressing support for international efforts, she noted that external support could not substitute internal stability. In that regard, the active promotion of peace and reconciliation was necessary, she said, encouraging the Afghan authorities to hold direct talks with the Taliban to end their ‘long night of suffering’.

Pakistan, she said, was willing to help in reviving that dialogue, but it requires efforts by all four members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group – Afghanistan, the US, China and Pakistan, an important vehicle to assist an Afghan-led peace process.

The Pakistani envoy said her country has paid an “onerous price” for almost four decades of conflict in Afghanistan, noting that it continues to play host to the largest protracted presence of refugees anywhere in the world.

“Apart from Afghanistan itself,” she added, “it is Pakistan that stands to gain the most from the restoration of peace across our western border.” Pakistan’s counter terrorism campaign, the largest and most effective in the world, deploying an 180,000 strong force, has turned the tide of terrorism in the country.

Highlighting the age-old bonds of kinship, faith and shared history, Ambassador Lodhi said Pakistan has offered unprecedented hospitality and support to the Afghan people in the past several decades of their travail and tragedy provoked by foreign military interventions.

Pakistan had delayed sending back Afghan refugees yet again and was allowing transit of Afghan goods.