London forum discarded India’s ‘greater’ Afghan role: Qureshi
January 30, 2010 1 Comment
* World accepts Islamabad’s stance that ‘Af-Pak’ policy not applicable to Pakistan
* Must engage elements willing to disarm
LONDON: Afghanistan’s six immediate neighbours, as well as China and Russia (six-plus-two), feel no need for a “greater Indian role” in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday.
Addressing a news conference at the Pakistan High Commission, Qureshi said the international community participating in the London Conference on Afghanistan had accepted Islamabad’s stance that a joint Pak-Afghan policy was no longer applicable to Pakistan, as both countries had their own distinct outlooks.He said the conference addressed Pakistan’s concerns regarding Afghanistan.
Af-Pak policy: “So this Af-Pak terminology was a mistake. We are two different countries with different levels of development. Our institutions and their capacities are different and today there was a clear departure from Af-Pak,” the foreign minister said. He said the conference also rejected new regional structure as advocated by certain elements.
Pakistan, Qureshi said, was of the opinion that the existing mechanisms in place were adequate and working well, and there was no need for new regional architecture. The foreign minister said as India had no border with Afghanistan, it did not fit into the scheme of things though it may continue to play a role in assisting development in Afghanistan. “We conveyed our point of view to Turkey in the trilateral and regional meetings held recently, we made our point loud and clear. In our interaction with various countries, we expressed our concern and today our point of view was understood and incorporated. The Afghan president and other important countries were of the view that there was no need for the new structure in the region.”
Engagement: Qureshi said Pakistan had been advocating that the international community would have to engage with elements willing to lay down arms and willing to shun violence. The international community, he added, endorsed this point of view. Qureshi said the Pakistani government had been pursuing a policy of dialogue, deterrence and development and the international community supported the point of view.
“So in many ways this conference was productive from Pakistan’s point of view,” he stressed. To a question, the foreign minister said Pakistan wanted the reconciliation and reintegration process to be “Afghanowned and Afghan-led”, adding that President Hamid Karzai had asked Pakistan to help facilitate the reconciliation process with the Taliban.
“It is for the Afghans to take the lead and tell us what they want from us. We feel that stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan,” he said. Regarding the Saudi King Abdullah’s role in the reconciliation process, Qureshi said Saudi Arabia had historic links with Afghanistan and was an important country that could play a productive role in this regard. He mentioned that during his meetings with his counterparts from Malaysia and Indonesia, it was agreed that Muslim countries could a play a proactive role in Afghanistan along with Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Qureshi said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had stood by Pakistan at the London Conference. app