UNITED NATIONS: Reaffirming its commitment to eliminate all terrorists “without distinction,” top Pakistani diplomat Maleeha Lodhi warned of a forceful response to any attempt to destabilise parts of Pakistan or to attack its territorial integrity.
“Let me be clear: we will be relentless in rooting out terrorism, whosoever its sponsors, external or internal,” Ambassador Lodhi told the UN Security Council on Monday.
“Any effort to destabilise parts of our country or to attack its territorial integrity will be responded to forcefully,” the Pakistan envoy said in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan.
Acknowledging that terrorism remained a common challenge, she told the 15-member council that Pakistan had condemned the recent rise in violence in Afghanistan, including the “atrocious” attack on the Afghan parliament, and reaffirmed Islamabad’s commitment to cooperation with Kabul in fighting the scourge.
Ambassador Lodhi spoke after the quarterly briefing by Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama), in which he urged the international community to work towards lasting peace and reconciliation by facilitating direct talks between the Afghan government and armed groups.
The country continues to need the support of the international community and the sustained attention of the Council, he stressed.
In her remarks, Ambassador Lodhi said Pakistan would play a constructive role in promoting peace and security in Afghanistan that could best be achieved through a process of national reconciliation undertaken and led by Afghans themselves.
“We welcome the first, tentative steps taken in recent months to advance the reconciliation process. We hope these steps will lead soon to direct talks as well as de-escalation of violence.”
“Pakistan will do everything possible to encourage this process. Success will require reciprocal accommodation and above all, strategic patience,” the Pakistani envoy added.
Ambassador Lodhi affirmed enhanced engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan based on the principles of non-interference, preventing the use of territory to attack the other country and treatment of each other’s enemies as common enemies, as agreed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the Pakistani premier’s recent visit to Kabul.
Outlining activities relating to the Heart of Asia process that Pakistan co-chaired, she stated that sustainable peace in Afghanistan would lead to regional stability.
She also welcomed the Afghan government’s commitment for the return and reintegration of the large population of refugees hosted by Pakistan and hoped for continued Unama assistance in that regard.
Ambassador Lodhi called for more focused action with international support to stem the illicit drug trade.
The destinies of Afghanistan and Pakistan are intertwined, she said, adding that Pakistan would help the Afghan people in whichever way it could to reach the goal of lasting peace.