The Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi who addressed the inaugural ceremony of Afghan peace conference titled “Lahore Process” at Bhurbhan in Murree, Pakistan, on Saturday, said his country remains firmly committed to a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.
Qureshi said Pakistan’s unshakable resolve to support peace, stability and long-term prosperity of Afghanistan.
Senior Afghan politicians, including Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, second deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqeq, and presidential candidate Abdul Latif Pedram, have attended the conference.
Other important figures include the High Peace Council Chairman Mohammad Karim Khalili, presidential candidate Mohammad Haneef Atmar, former vice president Mohammad Yunus Qanooni, former governor Ismail Khan, and presidential candidate Ahmad Wali Massoud.
Qureshi said Pakistan supports an Afghanistan that is at peace with itself, and at peace with its neighbors. Pakistan respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.
“We are determined to build our bilateral relationship on the principles of non-interference, mutual respect, and common interest,” he said.
He said that after the Afghan nation, no one has suffered more than the people of Pakistan due to this persistent instability and conflict. Advancing the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan is, therefore, in Pakistan’s own national interest, he added.
“We wish to see a friendly Afghanistan, governed by elected leadership, representative of the aspirations of all Afghans.
The Pakistani minister said that for far too long, the vicious circle of mistrust, often fed into by our common enemies, has affected our relationship. He added that the “blame-game” has not helped either of the countries and that it is indispensable to move away from this negative paradigm.
He said it is incumbent upon the leadership of the two countries to take practical steps to build mutual trust and confidence.
He said the two countries should not allow their respective territories to be used by anyone to the detriment of our interests.
He said Pakistan and Afghanistan have the same objective of long-term peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region.
Qureshi said while others believed in a military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, we always thought that a politically negotiated settlement is the only way forward. It is gratifying to note that others have also reached the same conclusion now.
He mentioned that Pakistan has whole-heartedly facilitated the Afghan peace process in good faith and as a shared responsibility and will continue playing its due role.
He said our support has been crucial in overcoming the political stalemate that looked impossible to break just a year ago.
Qureshi said that Pakistan also wishes to work with Afghanistan, and the international community, to help create conditions that enable the dignified, safe and voluntary return of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan.
Figures show that at last 2.7 million Afghan refugees are living in Pakistan and almost 1.4 million of them have been registered.