NEW YORK – Pakistan and Afghanistan will jointly counter the threats of terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime with strong common resolve, and move to forge a mutually beneficial economic relationship, a Pakistani diplomat told the UN General Assembly on Thursday.
Speaking in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN Ambassador Masood Khan said that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Islamabad and talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week marked a “holistic renewal of our relationship.” “Non-state actors should not be allowed to dictate Pak-Afghan bilateral relations,” he said, adding “Our relationship must be based on mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and marked by trust and cooperation.”
“On our side, we are prosecuting operation Zarb-e-Azb to take out terrorists and take down their networks. There is zero tolerance for them. Our nation and our valiant armed forces are determined to fight this war to the finish,” he said. “There are no bad or good terrorists,” he said. “Terrorists are criminals, plain and simple. Action is being taken against them, without distinction and differentiation.”
The soil of Pakistan, he said, would be cleansed of the twin scourges of terrorism and violent extremism. Action on the Afghan side of the border would ensure the annihilation of the toxic ideology of terrorism. “In this regard, we appreciate the steps being taken by the Afghan government for simultaneous operations on the Afghan side of the border to address specific security situations,” he said.
The ambassador said that Pakistan supported Afghanistan’s electoral process through enhancing security on their shared border. The two States had resolved to forge robust economic partnerships to expand trade, promote investment, improve infrastructure, build road and rail links, and generate energy. He also envisaged collaboration with Afghanistan on reconstruction, border security and defence, capacity building, education and the parliamentary exchanges.
Stressing that past mistakes of abandoning Afghanistan should not be repeated, he said that Afghanistan’s security institutions would require substantial assistance for years to come. The two countries would jointly counter the threats of terrorism, violent extremism, transnational crime and a precarious security environment with a strong common resolve and coordinated endeavours.
Pakistan was encouraged by President Ghani’s decision to give priority to the matter of refugees, given that more than three million documented and undocumented refugees still continued to live on Pakistan’s soil. As host to the largest, single country, chronic refugee caseload, Pakistan had extended the refugees stay until the end of 2015, despite constraints on its resources. However, to deal with the refugees in Pakistan, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees must enhance its assistance.
The international donor community should earmark resources for the rehabilitation and repatriation of refugees, he said, adding the Afghan government should pay special attention to livelihoods and housing to absorb returning refugees.