Int’l community needs greater coordination, deeper dialogue to tackle terror threat: Sartaj

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ISLAMABAD, July 26 (APP): Terming terrorism and violent extremism  “a global phenomena”, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Tuesday said the international community needed greater coordination and deeper dialogue to tackle the threat.

“It is equally important to address the root causes of terrorism,”  he said while addressing the 23rd ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting held at Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

He said,”Terrorism and violent extremism are a global phenomena.

They cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.”

The Advisor said,”We are living in challenging times.

Formidable political and security challenges confront us around the globe. As we grapple with the challenges, it is becoming increasingly clear that we  can address them more effectively through joint and collective efforts. Terrorism is one of the most formidable challenge we face today.”

He said the recent wave of terrorism, stretching from the US to Europe to Asia, reminded them that the menace was alive and becoming  even more dangerous.

“These attacks mark an escalation and shift in tactics of the terrorists. The menace is taking new shapes and virulent forms, like self-radicalization and lone wolf attacks, that are hard to detect  in advance,” he added.

Sartaj Aziz said as the international community watcheed
with alarm, there was a growing apprehension that the situation might  become more serious in the coming months.

Pakistan, he said, had been one of the most serious victims of terrorism in the last decade. “We have lost thousands of precious  lives.

Even our school going children were not spared by terrorists.

“Nevertheless, in the past three years we have launched
a very determined and successful campaign against terrorism.”

He said the comprehensive military operation Zarb-e-Azb
against all terrorist groups had been a remarkable success.

It had been complemented by a National Action Plan to counter  violent extremism through a programme of de radicalization.

“We are ready to share our counterterrorism experience
with ARF Members,” Sartaj Aziz added.

The Advisor on Foreign Affairs said Pakistan wanted to
pursue its vision of peaceful neighbourhood and was committed to friendly relations with all its neighbours.

“Pakistan is willing to engage in a sustained, structured
and result-oriented comprehensive dialogue process with India  to resolve all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and  Kashmir dispute,” he added.

He said Pakistan was deeply concerned at the recent killing of innocent Kashmiris by Indian security forces.

“We call upon the international community to raise its voice against human rights  violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir,” he added.

Sartaj Aziz said,”Afghanistan has suffered for decades.  Its people have seen war, turmoil and conflict for too long.

They deserve peace, security and normal lives.”

“Pakistan believes in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned
peace process.

We have made sincere efforts in this regard to bring all stakeholders to the negotiating table.”

He said Pakistan had hosted over three million Afghan
refugees for more than thirty years.

Pakistan would continue to support Afghanistan in its pursuit of peace and reconciliation, as well as reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

Sartaj Aziz said the Middle East was in a state of flux
and turmoil continued in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. “We
believe there is a dire need to ensure that the region is not
destabilized by terrorist groups.”

“We also welcome the initiation of dialogue process in
Kuwait between both parties in Yemen and hope that it would lead to a negotiated settlement to the crisis,” he added.

Advisor on Foreign Affairs said Pakistan believed in the
territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq. “We commend
Iraqi government’s efforts in the fight against Daesh,” he
added.

About the issue of Palestine, he said, “While there is
no end in sight to the long ordeal of Palestinians, Pakistan
is disappointed over the current stalemate in the peace
process. The deadlock has implications for peace in the region and beyond.”

“We believe that unless the Palestinian issue is
resolved, peace in the Middle East cannot be achieved. We call for the establishment of an independent homeland for
Palestinians with Al-Quads Al-Sharif as its capital.

We support the quest of the state of Palestine for membership in the United Nations,” he added.

On South China Sea, Sartaj Aziz said,”Pakistan feels
that disputes should be resolved peacefully by directly
concerned sovereign states through consultation and
negotiations in accordance with relevant bilateral agreements
and the Declaration on Conduct of Parties.”

“The countries outside the region should fully respect
the efforts by China and ASEAN countries to maintain peace and stability in South China Sea and play a constructive role.”

Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan enjoyed long association with
the ASEAN countries. “We are a Sectoral Dialogue Partner of
ASEAN since 1993.”

“Our economic and political relations with ASEAN member
states and with ASEAN itself have enhanced over the years. We believe that time is ripe to upgrade this relationship to Full Dialogue Partnership to further strengthen Pakistan’s ties
with ASEAN in political, economic, security and social
fields,” he added.

The Advisor said Pakistan’s positive and active  contribution to regional and international organizations  was well established and acknowledged by the international
community.

“I hope that ASEAN would recognize this potential and
accept Pakistan as its Full Dialogue Partner soon,” he added.

Sartaj Aziz appreciated the warm welcome and elaborate
arrangements made by the government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic for the 23rd ARF Ministerial Meeting.