South Asian Affairs

President for comprehensive regional strategy to tackle terrorism

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday called for developing a comprehensive regional strategy and approach to tackle the menace of terrorism, as also endorsed by the strategic review by the United States. “It is time that we all recognize that terrorism has roots across the region. A regional strategy therefore needs to be developed,” the President stressed.
He was addressing the participants of a two?day conference of Pak?Afghan parliamentarians, experts and editors here at the Aiwan?e?Sadr. The conference, being organized by South Asia Free Media Association, begins in Islamabad on Tuesday.

President Zardari said the strategic review by the U.S. has endorsed the need for a regional approach and a comprehensive strategy that also includes development, as a key element.“This is a welcome development. Hopefully it will herald in change,” he added.

The President said the countries in the region must work together to halt the free flow of weapons, drugs and money, adding, “this must be done through verifiable means and based on consensus.” President Zardari said Afghanistan and Pakistan face the common challenge of fighting terrorism and extremism.

“Together we must meet the challenge. We are determined to reverse the tide of terrorism”.

President Zardari said that the democratic Government has a long term vision of peace and prosperity for the whole region. He said that since assumption of power by the democratic Government in Pakistan, relations with Afghanistan have been transformed. He pointed out that Pakistan and Afghanistan share not only a common history and understanding but also a common future.

The President said the two countries have immense potential to develop and can become a vehicle for promotion of regional trade and economic development. He, however, regretted that due to problems like terrorism and extremism the potential remains untapped and they have to go to the world with begging bowl.

The President said it is unfortunate that the land of Sufis and saints is seeing violence like what happened in Lahore today. “We will have to stand together to fight the threat,” he added. President Zardari said the democratic Pakistan will always be a friend of Afghanistan.

The President recalled his meetings with President Karzai including when President Karzai attended his inauguration as the President of Pakistan in September, then in Istanbul in December on the occasion of the second summit in Turkey. The President also recalled his visit to Kabul in January last and said during his visit to Afghanistan a Joint Declaration on “Directions in Bilateral Cooperation” was concluded.

He complimented SAFMA for taking the timely initiative and hoped the participants will discuss all the issues during their deliberations over the next two days and will make recommendations for building long term partnership between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Earlier, in his speech the leader of 52?member Afghan delegation Amanullah Paiman, who is Deputy Speaker of Afghan lower house, said the two countries should sink their differences to foil designs of the enemies. He said parliamentarians of the two countries can help a lot in fostering relations between the two countries.

Secretary General of SAFMA Imtiaz Alam said the conference is aimed at promoting long term partnership between Pakistan and Afghanistan in different fields including security, economy, education, culture and media. Later, the President hosted a dinner in honour of the participants of the Conference.-APP