WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (APP): Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on
Thursday said Pakistan and the United States together had degraded al-Qaeda in the
aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and need to continue work together and cooperate in
defeating the newer and more toxic form of terrorism.
In his opening remarks at a seminar organized by the Washington-based
United States Institute of Peace, the minister also emphasized that both the United
States and Pakistan had much to gain by working together, including achieving a durable
peace in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan considers itself a longstanding friend of the United
States,” the minister said and added that friends need to revitalize and refresh their
friendship from time to time.
“A partnership that is anchored in mutual respect, pursuit of common
interest and understanding of each other’s concerns has served us both,” he said.
However, the minister said, lately, there had been a tendency to
place Pakistan’s counterterrorism credentials under focus. “The truth is that Pakistan is
not just fighting but also winning against terrorism,” the minister added.
Kh. Asif said four years ago, Pakistan had one the highest incidence of
terrorism anywhere in the world, but Pakistan responded to this tide of terrorism by
building a strategic national consensus on a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy.
This national consensus, he added, helped mobilized nearly 200,000
troops against the forces of terrorism which dealt a decisive blow to all terrorist
networks that had taken advantage of the remote geography of the treacherous border
“Our troops have bravely soldiered in terrain that has deceived
visitors for centuries. What is often forgotten is that Pakistan has been conducting series
of major counter-terrorism operations for over a decade and has progressively secured
all territory on its side of the border,” he mentioned.
He said as a result of these successful operations Pakistan had
seen the most significant decline in the number of terrorist attacks anywhere in the world
and the civilian deaths due to terrorism had declined considerably since 2013.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said that while Pakistan was winning the
fight against terrorism, the successes have come at a staggering human and financial cost.
Pakistan has lost 62,000 lives and its economy has suffered losses to
the tune of over $120 billion in the 16 years of war. This war has been Pakistan’s “longest, the deadliest and the toughest fight,” he added.
The successes against terrorism, the Minister said, has transformed the
landscape of Pakistan with democratic institutions continue to thrive, terrorism being vigorously combated, and economy being stabilized and is poised for rapid growth.”In Pakistan, despondency has given way to optimism. Underdevelopment is being overcome by growth.”
He said, one of the key pillars of our policy is to strengthen regional
integration and economic connectivity. China Pakistan Economic Corridor is the most conspicuous element of this policy.
The CPEC embraces a number of infrastructure and development projects.
Pakistan is also promoting other regional connectivity projects such as Central Asia South Asia (CASA) -1000 power project, he said.
Clearly the dividends of achieving security and peace can be shared
throughout the region, the Minister while adding that this is where both Pakistan and the United States can work together.
We can together build on an improved security environment in Pakistan by
expanding this arc of stability. This will strengthen regional economic connectivity, promote trade and bring prosperity to the whole region.
He said since independence, the cooperation with the United States has
served mutual interest and Pakistan appreciates American help in diverse areas of defence, education, agriculture and energy.
But let’s not forget that Pakistan has also helped the United States
fight and degrade the organization that attacked the US on 9/11. Within our limited capacity and without seeking quid pro quo, Pakistan has facilitated logistics of the United States longest war, he said.
Pakistan expects a relationship based on mutual respect with recognition
of each others sacrifices, the Minister said and assured that Islamabad will continue to work with the United States and the International Community for peace and stability in Afghanistan.