ISLAMABAD, June 1 (APP): Special Assistant to the Prime
Minister on Foreign Affairs, Tariq Fatemi on Wednesday said
Pakistan will continue to persist with its efforts to promote
peace in Afghanistan.

“We also remain committed to working together with
Afghan authorities to eliminate terrorism, terrorist safe
havens from both sides of the border, with effective
operational coordination,” he added.

Tariq Fatemi was speaking at Public Talk on “Global
Security Challenges in the era of new Geo-political
Realignments: European Responses” organized by the Center for Research & Security Studies.

He said Pakistan has already offered full cooperation to
the Afghan government to work with it to better manage the
border, engage in frequent high level communications, and real time exchange of intelligence, to address the movement and activities of terrorists.

Secondly, Tariq Fatemi said Pakistan would like to
harness the full potential of economic cooperation and
regional connectivity between our two countries.

“Just to give you a quick synopsis, Pakistan is now
providing $ 500 million of bilateral assistance to Afghanistan
which includes funds for development of infrastructure in
education and health, as well road network,” he added.

SAPM fatemi said Pak-Afghan bilateral trade has jumped
from meager $ 300 million to around $ 2.5 billion in the last
three years and “we seek to take it to US $ 5 billion.”

“Besides, we are also working on big energy projects,
such as CASA 1000 and TAPI, which will come through
Afghanistan,” he added.

Tariq Fatemi said Pakistan has suffered grievously from
conflict and instability in Afghanistan, for decades now,
adding, “unless this cycle is decisively reversed, we would
continue to bear the brunt.”

He said Pakistan was mindful of the strong desire in the
US to bring the “long war” in Afghanistan to a “responsible
end.” “We support this objective. We also agree that
Afghanistan should not become a safe haven for terrorists
again,” he added.

SAPM Fatemi, however, maintained it was in our common
interest to avoid a repeat of the 1990s. There are real
concerns that instability in Afghanistan resulting from a
precipitate U.S. and NATO troop withdrawal could increase
cross-border activity, flow of arms and narcotics, and influx
of refugees into Pakistan, he added.

He said Pakistan facilitated the reconciliation process
between Taliban and the Afghan government, under the rubric of the Quadrilateral process. Despite provocations, including the latest US drone attack that killed the Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor, Pakistan has exercised restraint, he added.

“Yet, it is legitimate to ask whether reiterating commitment to the process on the 18th May and decapitating the
Taliban leader three days later, through an illegal
instrument, would promote the cause of peace in Afghanistan?,” he questioned.

Speaking on Pakistan’s vision of regional connectivity,
Tariq Fatemi hoped it will lay the foundations of peace and
prosperity in the region, adding, the first major step in this
direction was the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
“We believe that this mega concept will serve as a
“game-changer”, in ushering in a new era of peace, cooperation and development in the region and beyond,” he added.

About Pakistan’s eastern neighbour, Tariq Fatemi said it
was no secret that relations with India have remained an
important and sensitive area in our foreign policy.

“It is unfortunate that mutual suspicion and wariness of
each other’s intentions have forced both countries to divert
precious resources from socio-economic development, to
procurement and development of weapons and arms. More than six decades of mistrust, four wars and un-resolved disputes have made complete normalization of relations a difficult and complex task,” he added.

SAPM Fatemi said, but for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,
seeking peace with India for the good of our two peoples was a life-long commitment. “We seek a peaceful relationship with India, but one based on mutual respect for each other’s concerns and interests.”

He said Pakistan was cognizant of enormous challenges
posed by the large influx of irregular migrants and refugees
in Europe, adding, Pakistan itself has been host to more than
three million refugees for past many decades and can well
appreciate the gravity of the situation being faced by several
countries in Europe.

“We are of the view that an integrated approach to
migration that encompasses in its fold political, security and
socio-economic aspects of the issue is needed to effectively
address this challenge.”

“Concomitantly, it is sine qua non that the root causes
of conflicts be addressed in the countries from where people
are fleeing, for protection of their lives,” he added.

Tariq Fatemi said on its part, the Government of
Pakistan was determined to curb human trafficking as enshrined in country’s Penal Laws.

To ward off illegal immigration, Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif’s government has strengthened the legal regime in
dealing with the complex issue of illegal migration.

“However, extremist mindsets, xenophobia are being
manifested even in well-established democracies. This is both
sad and alarming. In fact, there should be no anti-Islam bias
in formulation of migration policies and Islamophobic
sentiments are contained from making inroads into the European societies,” he maintained.