Pakistan vows to work with new Afghan rulers

* Nawaz says peaceful transfer of power will help democracy flourish in the war-torn country * Participation of Afghan people in democratic process will play vital role in bringing peace to region

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Sunday that Pakistan would not only help and support Afghanistan strengthen democracy but would also work in collaboration with the new leadership in that country to bring peace and tranquillity in the region.
Prime Minister Nawaz congratulated President Hamid Karzai and the people of Afghanistan on successfully holding and completing the electioneering process for the president’s office. He said that the Afghan people’s effort to make decisions through the ballot boxes reflects their determination and keen interest in adopting a democratic culture. “Participation in the democratic process by the Afghan people would play a significant role in bringing peace and stability in the region,” Prime Minster Nawaz emphasised. 
The prime minister wished for a peaceful transfer of power in Kabul, as happened in Pakistan last year, and hoped democracy would flourish in the neighbouring country. “This election would prove as a historic moment for the Afghan people in their democratic journey,” Prime Minister Nawaz said. He also hoped that these elections will be instrumental in creating unity and harmony among the war-torn country’s people.
Earlier, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said in her message that the people of Afghanistan have braved the security threat and inclement weather and turned up in large numbers to exercise their democratic right to choose the future leadership. She said the people of Pakistan wished Afghan electoral institutions well as they take the next key steps in ensuring the successful completion of the electoral process. She said the people of Pakistan stand in strong solidarity with the Afghan nation at this historic moment, and as it moves forward in its peaceful democratic transition.
Former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari also felicitated the Afghan people on peaceful voting with a larger-than-expected turnout, in defiance of the forces that had threatened the polls. “On behalf of the PPP and on my own behalf I wish to felicitate the people, the government and the officials responsible for the polls in Afghanistan on Saturday,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“Hopefully the Saturday polls will be a watershed mark in the elusive journey of the people of Afghanistan on the path to peaceful democratic transition and leading to peace and stability not only in their country but also in the region,” Zardari said. The former president said the vote in Afghanistan despite threats demonstrates yet again that the Afghan people want peace and democracy, and those opposed to their democratic ethos are doomed to be frustrated.
The elections hold great promise not only for Afghanistan but also for the region, he said. “The people of Pakistan which last year witnessed the first ever democratic transition under the watch of the Pakistan People’s Party will watch keenly as the results of the voice of the people of Afghanistan are tabulated in the coming days,” Zardari said. He also stressed that peace in Pakistan depends on peace and stability of Afghanistan, and the PPP looks forward to the strengthening the forces of peace and stability in Afghanistan as a result of the polls, he said.
According to initial estimates the voter turnout was more than 58 percent. Meanwhile, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazalur Rahman has said that the effectiveness of the Afghan elections is linked with Afghanistan’s internal political reconciliation in the short term. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Jan Achakzai, Fazl said that after this important election Afghans are about to decide the ambit of their relations with NATO and the US. He said internal Afghan political reconciliation is the only way to ensure long-term security and stability in the country underpinned by constitutionalism and economic development. 

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