Pakistan has vital stake in peace, stability, economic development of Afghanistan: Zardari

ISTANBUL,: President Asif Ali Zardari Friday said that Pakistan has vital stake in peace, stability and economic development of Afghanistan and it should be seen as a part of solution of Afghanistan issue.Speaking at the 5th Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan Trilateral Summit here, the President said that the sacrifices given by Pakistan in the war against terror signify its intention.

He said since coming into power of a democratic government, Pakistan and Afghanistan have got much closer and turned a new leaf in bilateral relations.He said, hallmark of these relations is frequent consultations at the leadership level and Prime Minister Gilani just paid a highly useful visit to Kabul this month which has further strengthened mutual understanding and cooperation.

“Out mutual trust is untainted and our comfort level is optimal and we now share a vision of peace, development and prosperity for the region and beyond,” he added.

The President said Pakistan greatly respects Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs is fundamental to Pakistan’s foreign policy. He said Pakistan fully supports President Karzai’s roadmap and the Kabul Process.

The President said that bilateral cooperation has since scaled the new heights and the bilateral trade has touched the two billion dollar mark, with an aim to achieving the target of bilateral trade of $ 5 billion by 2015.

The conclusion of new Transit Trade Agreement will boost trade and economic opportunities in the region, he added.
President Zardari said that Pakistan’s contribution to Afghanistan reconstruction is modestly substantial and “we have recently decided to additionally construct 50 schools and 50 health units across Afghanistan”, adding, some of these schools and health units would be dedicated for education and healthcare of females in Afghanistan.

The President said that Turkey is a close and trusted partner of Afghanistan and lauded Turkey’s constructive role in Afghanistan, which is also a source of comfort for Pakistan. He said that Afghanistan needed joint backing of Pakistan and Turkey.

He said both the countries together needed to support and facilitate an Afghan-led process of reconciliation. He said both the countries together can contribute to the reconstruction in Afghanistan.

President Zardari said that development of the region should be on top of our list of priorities and this is number one panacea for most of the ills. He said the three countries are highly resourceful but the potential, however, is greatly unutilized.

“We need to focus on cooperation in economic, trade, energy, transport, counter-narcotics and other areas of mutual interest,  he said and added, brother Karzai and I recently signed the TAPI agreement which benefit Pakistan and Afghanistan tremendously while CASA-1000 is yet another project in the pipeline,” he added.

The President said that the three countries needed more of such projects to crisscross the region, adding, joint projects in the Trans-border Economic Zones, in particular, would be extremely beneficial. The President fully endorsed the Turkish initiatives proposed at the summit.

He said the trilateral cooperation in fields like disaster management, academics, media, culture and capacity building would promote soft tendencies.

The President said that peace and prosperity through partnerships should be our ultimate objectives.

The President reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to a long term, mutually beneficial cooperation with Turkey and Afghanistan to achieve the objectives.

He said that Pakistan values its multi-dimensional partnership with Turkey and friendship of both the countries is time-tested. The President lauded the trilateral initiative of Turkey for bringing the three countries more closer to work for uplift of the region and welfare of their people – APP