New York: Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi has told the UN General Assembly that Pakistan was ready to assist in reviving an Afghan-led peace process once formally requested to do so by the Afghan Government. But for this, the “anti-Pakistan rhetoric from Kabul” also had to cease.
“It would be best for the Afghan government to resolutely tackle its internal weaknesses rather than externalize its problems”, she remarked. Speaking in a debate in the General Assembly on the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN said that a negotiated peace was the only viable option to establish lasting stability in Afghanistan.
She pointed to the “international consensus” in this regard and stressed that Afghan national reconciliation was all the more vital to prevent the emergence of Daesh in Afghanistan and the region. Ambassador Lodhi told the 193 member world body that “the Afghan parties themselves appear to have moved away from the international consensus that peace can only be achieved through negotiations.”
“A unified policy in support of a peace process is lacking within the Afghan National Unity Government”, she said and added that it needed to “bridge its internal differences, reinforce its unity and clarify its policy regarding the peace process.” The Pakistani envoy also said that after the announcement of Mullah Omar’s demise, the Afghan Taliban had reverted to their default option of fighting rather than talking, and this had led to a surge in insurgent attacks. She said “the internal struggle within the Afghan Taliban has made the revival of the peace process far more difficult.”
She warned that further fragmentation of the Taliban could intensify the insurgency and possibly even enable the rise of Daesh. Expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said this was evidenced in the escalation in violence and significant increase in civilian casualties.
Pakistan condemns the violence and terrorism in Afghanistan, she said, adding that “there is no justification for attacks against innocent children, women and men.” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that apart from the people of Afghanistan, it is Pakistan and its people who have suffered the most from 35 years of wars, violence and terrorism in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan is the primary victim of terrorism. We have lost tens of thousands of lives – of civilians and soldiers to terrorist violence.” Ambassador Lodhi apprised the world body of the of the achievements of Pakistan’s Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which she said was the “largest and most effective anti-terrorism campaign” anywhere in the world, involving over 180,000 security forces.
Regretting the lack of cooperation from Afghanistan, which Pakistan had requested when it started the North Waziristan operation,she said that Pakistan’s objectives to completely eliminate terrorists cannot not be fully accomplished until the sanctuaries and safe havens of those terrorists who have fled to Afghanistan have been eliminated. “I would like to reiterate our call for such cooperation again from this podium”, she added. Pakistan also called on the international community to resolve the problem of the more than three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. She said that Pakistan has been exemplary host of these refugees for over three decades.
“Those who are today erecting barricades against refugees from Syria and other conflict zones should not expect Pakistan to host the millions of Afghans indefinitely and without international support” she said and added, “The world community must facilitate the dignified repatriation and resettlement of Afghan refugees”.