WASHINGTON: Pakistan desires peace in Afghanistan and will support any efforts for political reconciliation to restore peace and stability in the war-ravaged country, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said here on Wednesday.
Addressing a gathering of students, academicians, think tank analysts, and media persons at an exclusive event organized by the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, the Minister said that Pakistan shared the international community’s concerns about the instability in Afghanistan. The Minister is here on a three-day visit.
He said that Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan as the situation there continued to spill over into Pakistan. Reiterating Pakistan’s support for efforts towards political reconciliation, he said it was the only viable path towards obtaining lasting peace in the region. Mr. Ahsan Iqbal stated that blaming Pakistan for the security failures in Afghanistan was unhelpful as well as offensive to the people of Pakistan, whose sacrifices in the fight against terrorism were without parallel in the region. “The Government has an economic vision for the country, which is based on peace and stability paradigm,” he added.
Speaking on “Pakistan’s Efforts in Internal and Regional Security”, the Minister covered a wide range of areas from Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations, which had resulted in a marked decline in the incidence of terrorist incidents in the country, to Pakistan’s role in promoting regional peace and stability. He shared with the gather Pakistan’s National Action Plan, the 20-point program developed by the Government of Pakistan to counter terrorism and extremism.
The Minister said that the implementation of the Plan, in conjunction with the sweeping counter-terrorism operations undertaken by the country’s security forces, had been critical to improving the security situation in Pakistan. The Plan was now paying dividends in the form of rising investor interest in Pakistan, including from corporate America, he added.
On the ongoing multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Minister Iqbal, who is also the Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, said CPEC was envisioned as a regional connectivity project by Pakistan and China.
CPEC would not only radically overhaul Pakistan’s transport and energy infrastructure, but it would act as a catalyst for regional integration, the Minister said while adding that the it should thus be welcomed by all countries that desire to see stability and prosperity in South Asia. The Interior Minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s readiness to work with the United States as a partner for achieving peace and security in the region and urged that seeing the region from the prism of third country will compound the situation for anyone. He said Pakistan desires a broader and comprehensive partnership with the United States, beyond security and particularly in the education sector.