ISLAMABAD - Terming terrorism and violent extremism a global phenomenon, Adviser 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.

"Terrorism and violent extremism are global phenomena. They cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. 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 challenges we face today."

He said the recent wave of terrorism, stretching from the US to Europe and 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-radicalisation and lone wolf attacks, that are hard to detect in advance," he added.

Aziz said as the international community watched 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," Aziz added.

The Adviser 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.

Aziz said Afghanistan has suffered for decades and 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.

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 destabilised 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.

He 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, 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."

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 Adviser said Pakistan's positive and active contribution to regional and international organisations was well established and acknowledged by the international community. "I hope that ASEAN would recognise this potential and accept Pakistan as its Full Dialogue Partner soon," he added.

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