ISLAMABAD  - Unfortunately over the last decade or so the relations between the Pakistan and NATO have been defined through Afghan prism, said Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif while delivering his keynote address during a conference organised by the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI).

The minister further said Pakistan and NATO relations are of key importance as they represent not only the bedrock of regional security but also provide the necessary details to the Afghan security imbroglio. He said that it is high time to redraw the Pakistan-NATO relations on new parameters.

He further said that today, Pakistan is facing serious challenges as a result of the security situation in Afghanistan and due to its direct and indirect impact on Pakistan’s security matrix. This is our firm belief that regional security problems require a local and regional approach they cannot be imposed on the region.

Asif said, “Our state policy demonstrates our sincere commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are facilitating an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process of reconciliation as the date for the withdrawal of NATO forces approaches.”

While concluding, the minister stressed that the expansion of the war or violence in Afghanistan to Pakistan is counterproductive for peace and stability; therefore it is important that the drone strikes must not take place in Pakistan, which are consequence of Pakistan sharing a larger border with Afghanistan and being exposed to the violence.

Minister for Commerce and Industry, Khuram Destagir, also gave his perspective on the future prospect of Pakistan and NATO post-2014 relation. He said that the role of Pakistan and NATO countries are critical in making Afghanistan a peaceful and prosperous country. In post-2014, the emergence of a free, united and friendly to all Afghanistan is the best solution for regional as well as to international peace and security.

Khuram said that Pakistan has a three prong strategy with regards to Afghanistan: promoting peaceful, united and prosperous Afghanistan by endorsing Afghan led-Afghan owned reconciliation process, promoting economic prosperity though increasing bilateral between the both countries and smooth a smooth withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan.

While addressing the conference, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman stated, “We want good relations with US, NATO and China but slavery is out of question for us.” He further stated that majority of the people in Pakistan are peaceful and tolerant and therefore Islam should not be seen as representative of few misguided elements, which are wreaking havoc inside and outside Pakistan.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, PTI leader, expressed his hope for success of political solution in Afghanistan and said that international community should remain engaged in supporting reconstruction and economic development efforts in Afghanistan after 2014.

Lt Gen (Retd) Asif Yaseen, Secretary Defence, said that US and NATO forces have only achieved a marginal success in Afghanistan and it cannot be labelled as victory.

Szabolcs Takács, Deputy State Secretary Hungary, delivered his inaugural address. He said that NATO and its partner will continue their commitment to Afghanistan, pursuing the same fundamental objectives that always underpinned the mission to ensure that the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorist.