Pakistan supports China’s engagement with Afghanistan: PM's special assistant

*Fatemi says Pakistan to facilitate US for orderly drawdown from Afghanistan * Pakistan seeks Russian cooperation in building energy corridors, economic linkages, road and rail network linking Central Asia

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi has said that Pakistan will continue to work with the United States to facilitate an orderly drawdown and encourage an Afghan-led reconciliation process, as it always supports broader endeavours for peace, stability and progress in its neighbour.

“We have welcomed the US policy goal of a responsible end to this long war. while Pakistan also supports China’s deepening engagement with Afghanistan, particularly in the economic realm and regional cooperation,” he said while addressing a conference on Pakistan's post-2014 strategic environment, organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) here.

China would be hosting the next Heart of Asia/Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference in Tianjin on August 29, 2014. “We are committed to working with China for a successful outcome,” he said. He also said that Pakistan was also engaged with Iran and deepening its dialogue on regional issues. “Our engagement on developments in Afghanistan remains vital for promoting shared objectives of peace and stability – particularly in the wake of 2014 drawdown and beyond,” he said.

Fatemi said that Pakistan has supported the deepening of democracy and a peaceful democratic transition in Afghanistan. “We also made our contribution to the efforts for a free and fair elections process, including through enhanced security along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,” he said. Now, the Afghan electoral authorities have responsibility to complete the electoral process in a credible manner, while the security forces would have to fulfill their task of providing a secure environment, he said.

“We are hoping that, at the culmination of this process, the Afghan nation would emerge stronger and more unified,” the special assistant said. Pakistan has affirmed that it would work with whoever would be the democratic choice of the Afghan people, he said. It is gratifying that the leading contenders have expressed their desire to forge a cooperative relationship with Pakistan. “Pakistan would continue to support and facilitate all efforts for an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.

Fatemi also said that Pakistan’s relations with the Russian Federation were growing steadily, as the two countries cooperate closely at the UN and SCO. “We share common interests in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and Central Asia,” he said. Pakistan seeks Russia’s cooperation in building energy corridors, economic linkages and road and rail network linking Central Asia with Pakistan.

He also said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was committed to building cooperative relations with India. This week, the prime minister of Pakistan and India held a bilateral meeting, which was fruitful in beginning the process of charting a future course for the relationship. He said that Pakistan remains committed to engaging with the new Indian government through a constructive, meaningful and result-oriented dialogue on all issues.

“We will continue to work for tangible progress towards resolution of all outstanding issues. A just and peaceful solution of Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and aspirations of Kashmiri people is essential for durable peace in South Asia,” he said. “Our relations with China continue to be marked by a high degree of trust and commonality of interests,” he said.

In his policy statement, Fatemi said that Pakistan to continue to work on deepening its special relationships with the fraternal countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, with a primary focus on trade, investments and energy cooperation. “The US is an important part of our strategic environment and a key element in Pakistan’s foreign policy considerations,” he said, adding that the US continues to stress its interest in advancing regional stability and development.

With the shift of focus to economic diplomacy, he said Pakistan was making efforts to further fortify its existing economic and commercial ties with Japan, ASEAN, and the ANZUS region. “We are deepening relations with our friends and partners in Africa and Latin America,” he said. He said that Pakistan has potential to play a role as a conduit between the energy-rich Central Asia and energy-deficient South Asia and China.

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