ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday reiterated that Pakistan believes in policy of neutrality and non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and stands for a stable, prosperous and peaceful neighboring country. He urged for joint efforts to overcome all issues together that have disturbed peace, security and stability as there was no outside solution to bring stability and peace to the region.“Pakistan supports the Afghan-led process of political reconciliation and efforts for the stability of the neighboring country,” the President said during his meeting with Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul at Aiwan-e-Sadr.
Dr. Zalmai Rassoul was accompanied by senior Afghan officials of Afghan Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From Pakistani side, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rehman Malik, Interior Minister, M. Salman Faruqui, Secretary General to the President, Muhammad Sadiq, Pakistan Ambassador to Kabul, Malik Asif Hayat, Secretary to the President, Salman Bashir, Foreign Secretary, Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar and other senior officials were present.
Briefing newsmen, Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that matters relating to Pak-Afghan bilateral relations, security situation in Afghanistan, Afghan refugees issue and Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement were discussed during the meeting.
The President welcomed the recently concluded Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and called upon early completion of necessary formalities in both the countries to operationalize the agreement, which he said, was imperative for economic uplift of the people of the two countries.
Economic development holds the key to winning the war against militancy that thrived on poverty, deprivation and lack of economic opportunities, the President remarked. Terming the agreement a win-win situation for the two countries, the President said it would promote economic development by creating new vistas of opportunities for the people especially for those affected by the scourge of militancy during the recent years.
He expressed the hope that the traders and business communities of the two countries would take maximum advantage of the Agreement to the mutual benefit. The President recalled his meeting with President Karzai on the sidelines of TAPI and ECO summit and recent interaction with Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani, Chairman of the High Peace Council and suggested that there should be more leadership level visits between the two countries to further strengthen bilateral cooperation.
He emphasized the need to establish trans- Afghanistan corridors of trade and transit, energy and infrastructure to underpin the commercial ties between the two countries. Discussing Afghan refugees issue, the President said,” Pakistan continues to host millions of refugees and we want them to return to their homes with honour and safety so that they can play their positive role in reconstruction of Afghanistan”.
President Zardari said that he has been urging the international community to help create economic opportunities for the people of both Afghanistan and Pakistan as a tool for fighting militancy. He hoped that socio-economic conducive environment in Afghanistan would be created to enable the refugees return to their homes. He also hoped that the refugees would be factored in any integration process. Zalmai Rassoul thanked the President for Pakistan’s support to Afghanistan in an effort to bring stability, peace and development. -APP