ANKARA: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong and sincere commitment for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.
Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan on Thursday reaffirmed their resolve to continue collective efforts and enhanced cooperation to ensure sustainable peace and security in the region. Addressing a joint press conference here after the 8th trilateral summit hosted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, leaders of three countries expressed their satisfaction over the outcome of the summit, held in an environment of “fraternity”.
Prime Minister Nawaz reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong and sincere commitment for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. “This is a time for all Afghans to come together, make peace and rebuild their country,” said the prime minister. He hoped that the Afghan people would overcome all the challenges with resilience and perseverance and Pakistan would continue to facilitate the peace process for a peaceful Afghanistan. “Together we are working to build a new chapter in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations,” he commented and deeply appreciated Turkey’s support for building sustainable peace in the heart of Asia.
This was not only the thematic focus of this summit, but indeed the crux of their collective efforts, he added. The prime minister said his government would continue its sincere efforts to promote good neighbourly ties with Afghanistan. “It is also clear that such common challenges are best resolved through common endeavours at the regional and international levels. Commonality of purpose creates new opportunities,” he added.
Nawaz said an inclusive political settlement was key to sustainable peace in Afghanistan as well as the whole region. Nawaz Sharif said the three leaders had extensive exchanges during the summit. The region faced formidable challenges, ranging from extremism and terrorism to socio-economic development, he added. The joint statement to be issued after the summit reflects the path we intend to take, he added.
“We are very pleased with this outcome and would remain constructively engaged to see our Afghan brothers succeed and thrive in the months and years ahead.” Describing Turkey as his second home, Prime Minister Nawaz extended his profound thanks to the Turkish government and people for their warm welcome and gracious hospitality. “Pakistan and Turkey are bound in a fraternal relationship that has few parallels in inter-state relations. Our strategic partnership is growing in leaps and bounds,” the prime minister said, lauding the contributions by Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan in giving a robust character to the bilateral cooperation.
When asked if the issue of perceptions about the involvement of each other’s state and non-state actors in terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan was discussed during the summit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said these issues were discussed in detail, but they had not yet found any outcome. He, however, added that the current and historical facts needed to be addressed as Muslims. About the presence of Mullah Fazlullah in Afghanistan, President Karzai said it was a direct consequence of “inaction” and violation of the Afghan territory by Taliban and terrorists.
He, however, hoped that as the process of cooperation moved forward, the two sides would be able to tackle this issue. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he was extremely satisfied with the talks held in Ankara. There were concerns, but Pakistan and Afghanistan were on the same page, he added. He said the purpose of the summit was to iron out such concerns and “we have been quite successful in addressing these issues.”
Replying to a question, the prime minister appreciated the Turkish contribution in education sector in Pakistan and said their institutions were providing excellent and quality education. “I believe these institutions are contributing towards forging stronger bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two countries”, he added. The Afghan president said the three leaders discussed all areas of cooperation among the three countries with special focus on security and peace building in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He said the three countries would continue their engagement to increase a trusted environment between Pakistan and Afghanistan. President Karzai said Afghanistan had a very important year ahead in which a complete transition to Afghan security forces and withdrawal of international forces were taking place, besides presidential elections to be held on April 5 this year.
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