We thank the Secretary-General for his report and SRSG Yamamoto and Dr. Sima Samar for their briefings this morning.
We reject the baseless allegations made against us by the Afghan representative. His government would do better to deal with its vast challenges than to externalize its internal problems.
The Government of Afghanistan has consumed hundreds of billions of dollars of international assistance and what it has to show for is reflected in the Secretary General’s report.
The report observes that there has been no significant improvement in the political, security or economic situation in Afghanistan. Attacks by insurgent groups have intensified. Economic opportunity remains absent. Reconciliation process has stalled. And the confluence of these factors has magnified the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and threatens regional peace and security.
It is indeed threatening the stability of my own country.
Shifting the blame to my country will not help Afghan Government shroud its failures. It is Afghanistan that has failed to end its wars and internal strife and as a result undermined the security of the entire region.
This forum should not be misused for gratuitous sermons. It should be utilized for problem solving and finding solutions.
Peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s own vital interest. It is one of my Government’s top priorities. But we wonder if this aspiration is shared by some of our regional partners.
Pakistan has paid a staggering human and financial cost of the conflict in Afghanistan. Yet, the resilience of our proud people and the remarkable success of our military and law enforcement measures has successfully broken the back of terrorist outfits. It was only possible due to indiscriminate targeting of all terrorist groups.
But instead of appreciation and applying a similar squeeze on its side of the border, we heard complaints that our strong action was “pushing” terrorists into Afghanistan. The fact is that terrorists found safe haven in Afghanistan because of conducive conditions and weak border controls. But instead of blaming Afghanistan, Pakistan invited Afghanistan, time and again, to talk about border management. We proposed a number of border SOPs two years ago. They still await finalization.
Afghanistan’s only response thus far has been sheer indifference, and in some cases facilitation of the continued use of Afghan territory for launching attacks in Pakistan, killing and maiming hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children.
Yet, we preferred restraint over escalation, cooperation over confrontation, and dialogue over conflict. And we have been exercising maximum restraint in the face of provocations by terrorists from across the Pak-Afghan border.
We were forced to close the border temporarily, to secure our territory from the terrorists who reorganized in Afghanistan and launched terrorism against us. Yet on purely humanitarian grounds, we temporarily reopened the border, risking our security to alleviate the sufferings of the Afghan people.
There are multiple factors, both military and non-military, that have contributed to the existing stalemate in Afghanistan. Singling out Pakistan and pinning the blame on it for everything that goes wrong in Afghanistan is neither fair nor accurate.
Pakistan has consistently called for a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. But such a settlement remains the responsibility of the parties to the conflict. There has been a strong international consensus supporting this solution. We engaged sincerely in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, which as a mechanism, can still be utilized. But we should remember who sabotaged this process, not once but twice. So if you want to blame someone for not being sincere, it is definitely not us.
Pakistan remains fully committed to voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees. Today, as the countries close their borders to refugees, the international community, in particular Afghanistan itself, should be able to fathom the depths of our generosity in hosting more than 3 million Afghan refugees for almost 40 years.
Last week, Pakistan hosted the 13th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in Islamabad. It was a reiteration of our commitment to a peaceful neighborhood. In Islamabad, we jointly recommitted to transforming the region into a zone of peace and collective prosperity – and to face regional challenges together, including terrorism and drug trafficking. OBOR is another initiative that can have positive effect on promoting development, prosperity and thus peace in the region.
Pakistan remains committed to these ideals. We hope our partners will share them with the same zeal. We can make our region a citadel of peace, progress and prosperity – but we can only do so together!
I thank you.