SCO may join NATO in Afghanistan: Musharraf

BEIJING: President Pervez Musharraf said on Monday the Shanghai Cooperation Organization may join hands with the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, provided it does not lead to a conflict between those trying to bring peace and stability to the country. President Musharraf, who is on a six-day visit to China was responding to questions by students at the prestigious Tsinghua University. He said resolution of the Afghan dispute was vital not only for China and Pakistan, but also for the world at large.

“We have taken upon ourselves to bring stability and to ensure integrity and sovereignty of Afghanistan.” President Musharraf said. The President who unveiled a plaque to open the Pakistan-China Cultural and Communication Center at the university addressed the students on “Pakistan-China partnership for peace, harmony and development.”

He said the NATO was already doing its job in Afghanistan, “and if the SCO joins hands and do something [to end the internecine warfare], than it is very good.” However, “if anything leads to conflict between those who want to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan, I would not be for it” he said. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental security organization founded in 2001, to deal with the security-related concerns of Central Asian nations that feel threatened by terrorism, separatism and extremism.

President Musharraf said the crisis in Afghanistan needs to be addressed through a multi-track approach of military, political and socio-economic aspect. He said he strongly believed that a military solution only created an environment, while the ultimate resolution lay in political handling.

The President said joint efforts for leading to a socio-economic change was vital to bring stability to Afghanistan. He said after the 9 / 11 the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda elements entered Pakistan’s settled areas and its mountains causing suffering to Pakistanis who had to confront terrorist and suicide attacks. “The resolution of the Afghan dispute will not come about if everyone was to leave again,” Musharraf warned.

He said Pakistan and China have extensive collaboration in all areas, including extremism and terrorism and stressed the need for carrying out greater intelligence cooperation to successfully meet the threat. He said Pakistan was pursuing a multi-directional approach to address the issues of poverty, illiteracy, economic disparity and justice to eradicate the sense of alienation.

President Pervez Musharraf said the Pakistan-China ties were time-tested and all-weather and added “Pakistan’s friendship with China is the bedrock of Pakistan’s foreign policy and will remain so.” He said despite differences in political system and cultures, the two countries enjoyed a comprehensive strategy for peace and development. The President said several major dangers confronted peace and development in the region.

These, he said were the unresolved political disputes that led to extremism and terrorism, inter-faith and cultural prejudices such as the issue of blasphemous cartoons and films and finally the economic inequalities between and within the countries.

He said there was a need for resolving all political disputes with justice and pointed out the lingering dispute of Palestine. “There is a need for having new actors and adopting new approaches to resolve the issue,” Musharraf said. He said China, the European Union non-Arab Muslim world and Pakistan need to play their role in this regard.

President Musharraf said there was a need for creating a harmonious and peaceful Asia and a joint action plan to achieve this objective. He said peace and harmony were important for upholding the principles of the UN Charter and called for making it more potent. He said that the UN must not increase the number of permanent seats because this would be tantamount to increasing the powers and privileges of a few. On the contrary, he said there was a need for raising the number of non-permanent members in the world body.

President Musharraf said Pakistan and China together can play an important role in eradicating illiteracy, poverty and unemployment by enhancing trade and strengthening the entire region. The President said he had urged the Tsinghua university administration to join the conglomerate that was to open a university in Islamabad and hoped the integration between the two countries will bring prosperity to their people.

He said the two countries were cooperating tremendously with each other in development of socio-economic sector. The President congratulated the Chinese government on its spectacular success and achievements that reflects the hard work of its people and vision of its leadership. He said China had transformed in the past 30 years from an agri-based economy into knowledge based engineering and technology center, fully prepared to meet the challenges for the future.

He said Pakistan and China can together make tremendous progress and raise the level of their trade to dollar 15 billion. “Never in the history of humanity has a society transformed itself so much in so little time,” the President said.-SANA

About the author

Rubab Saleem

Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times

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