President Mamnoon Hussain Monday voicing his concern over drone strikes in Pakistan said these must stop as counter-terrorism measures that violate the country’s sovereignty only serves to compound the problem.
Addressing a book launching ceremony here in Islamabad, the President said it was important that the drone strikes must not take place in Pakistan. “These must stop as they are also counter-productive to the existing counter-terrorism drive in Pakistan,” he told the gathering comprising members of the defence and policy community. He said Pakistan wants to constructively contribute to the realization of peace, based on the principles of equality and partnership with the international, regional and national players.
“We hope that the international community would recognize Pakistan’s positive contributions and the importance of working with Pakistan to meet the regional security challenges—as they were not just regional or Afghan problems but also impact on international security.”
He said Pakistan and the international community must work together if they were to succeed in joint endeavor to help Afghanistan reclaim its rightful position in the comity of nations.
President Mamnoon Hussain was speaking here at the launching ceremony of a book - “Afghanistan 2014: Decision Point”, written by Dr. Maria Sultan, Director General South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI).
The President said the year 2014 was indeed a crucial point in the history of Afghanistan and the region.
Being the immediate neighbours sharing many issues and challenges, Pakistan’s security was linked in multiple ways with security in Afghanistan.
He said since 9/11, Pakistan has incurred enormous human and material losses, while being a part of the international campaign against terrorism. Thousands of precious lives have been lost and the economic losses run over billions of dollars.
“Yet, Pakistan finds itself at the center of the global threat of trans-national terrorism and is also shouldering an unprecedented share of responsibility in countering this menace,” he added.
The President said sometimes Pakistan’s commitment was questioned.
“The reality is that, leaving aside Afghanistan, there is no other country in the world than Pakistan that has paid a higher price. There is no parallel to the sacrifices made by the people of Pakistan and our security forces.”
He said Pakistan stands for a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan.
“We have consistently maintained that the solution of Afghanistan lies within Afghanistan, and that it must be achieved through an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.”
The President said Pakistan has and will continue to support all initiatives that enable this process to move forward.
“We have also stressed that all segments of Afghan society must be a part of this process and reap the fruits of peace.”
He said sustainable peace and development would come with shared responsibility and collective solutions. While efforts are being made by the international community to help Afghanistan, it was necessary to support the country’s efforts to address issues related to drugs production, illicit trafficking of small arms, and institutional capacity-building.
He said it was equally important to help build a conducive environment in the country for the honorable return of Afghan refugees and their sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan.
The President on the occasion also referred to a recent development of the grant of GSP Plus status to Pakistan.
“I greatly appreciate European Commission and the member countries of European Union for their continued support to us in getting GSP Plus status.”
He said it would help economy recover the huge losses that it has suffered due to war against terror. I believe it would help the war affected economies recover their losses and enable the governments to give better economic prospects to the people especially those who are the worst sufferers of the conflict.
The President expressed the hope that through the book, and similar other contributions, important gaps may be filled in the debate between what exists at the national levels and regionallevel, and what was aspired for at the international level.
He also appreciated the salient contribution by SASSI in highlighting the most important aspects of regional and global peace through this endeavor.
He expressed the hope that SASSI would continue to play this role and contribute to the policy debate.
Former Chairman Senate Wasim Sajjad in his book review mentioned in detail the write-ups of different authors about the prevailing situation in Afghanistan, the impact of the US and NATO withdrawal on the war ravaged country and its neighbours and the policy recommendations.
He said the writers believe that Pakistan has legitimate interests in peace in Afghanistan and unless a negotiated pull-out was reached, the situation may worsen.
Maria Sultan said the book gave Pakistan’s perspective to situation in Afghanistan and its impact. She said stability in Afghanistan was pre-requisite for stability in Pakistan. She also termed the mistrust between different stakeholders a stumbling block that needs to be addressed.