Remarks by the Foreign Minister on “6th Think Tank Forum”


6th Think Tank Forum
Remarks by the Foreign Minister

Islamabad : Let me begin by congratulating the host for organizing a session on such an important issue.

We are witnessing momentous events in our neighborhood, which have far-reaching implications for the region and the international community as a whole.

The situation demands following a carefully calibrated policy to avoid pitfalls and achieve what we have been pursuing for the last many years: a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

Before I highlight salient points of our policy on Afghanistan, a few comments on the current situation will give an idea on our policy. 

The international coalition pursued a military approach to achieve peace in Afghanistan for two decades, which, I don’t think was based on ground realities.

Insistence on military solution brought the political process to a head.

The Doha peace agreement brought a new hope for the Afghanistan leaders.

Unfortunately, Intra-Afghan Negotiations made little headway.

The absence of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned negotiated political settlement, coupled with withdrawal of international forces, created a whole new set of challenges and opportunities for Afghan leadership.

The lack of resistance by the Afghan security forces and the speed of Taliban’s take-over of Kabul have surprised international community.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Since taking over, Taliban have made a series of announcements on general amnesty, protection of women’s rights, freedom of speech, employment and access to education and openness to an inclusive political dispensation.

Taliban are in talks with Afghan leaders on the future political setup. We wish them success.

However, the situation, as it stands today, is fragile.

The unfortunate loss of more than 170 lives in two dastardly attacks by IS near Kabul airport is a grim reminder of fragility of situation.

More than ever, the situation demands Afghan leaders to exhibit wisdom.

It also requires sustained engagement by international community, as shared responsibility, to help Afghanistan on its path to peace, stability and prosperity.

Failure is not an option.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Pakistan was the only country that consistently maintained that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.

Pakistan, with its firm belief in a negotiated political settlement, supported the U.S.-Taliban direct talks, leading to Intra-Afghan Negotiations.

We also continued to voice that the withdrawl of international forces should have proceeded in tandem with progress in the Intra-Afghan Negotiations.

We also supported a responsible and orderly withdrawal to ensure smooth transition.

We have suffered the most after Afghanistan, both in terms of casualties and huge loss to the economy.

No other country has a greater interest in peace and stability in Afghanistan than Pakistan.

Continuation of conflict and instability in Afghanistan is certainly not in our interest.

We consider all segment of Afghan society important in the overall construct of Afghanistan.

Every Afghan, be it from Tajik community, Uzbek or Turkmen or Pashtun; they all are part of a beautiful mosaic.

We reached out to all ethnic communities to reiterate our support to a united and peaceful Afghanistan.

In the present circumstance, we have continued our support for an inclusive setup in Afghanistan, as the best way forward.

We consider Taliban’s announcements positive and encouraging.

The Afghan leadership should take the responsibility of delivering on the demands of the Afghan people, reconcile their differences and achieve a negotiated political situation, a long-cherished objective.

Inclusive set-up is important for Taliban to gain people’s confidence and international acceptability.

It will open new vistas of cooperation at regional and international level.

It will help realize our common objectives of a region, free from scourge of terrorism, strongly linked with the international community through a web of connectivity projects.

Given our renewed focus on ‘geo-economics,’ we feel that the dividends of ‘regional’ connectivity cannot be realized without enduring peace in Afghanistan.

To achieve the above, it is extremely important for the international community to remain engaged with Afghanistan.

We believe that the biggest opportunity right now is convergence of the international community on the need of durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

A sustained engagement will ensure steady transition and avoid repeat of 1990s.

Afghan people must not be abandoned at this crucial stage.

Pakistan will continue to play the role of a ‘facilitator’; however, our role must not be misconstrued as that of a guarantor.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Let me brief you on my recent visit to neighbors of Afghanistan.

I visited Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and Iran, where I had extensive discussion with the leadership of those countries on our common concerns and the need for a regional approach.

My visit was focused on following three tracks:

  • Facilitate political resolution of the Afghan conflict and help achieve an inclusive political settlement.
  • Intensify cooperation among neighbors in the areas of security, counter-terrorism and border mechanisms to deal with smuggling, human trafficking and flow of refugees;
  • Promote regional trade, transit, infrastructure, energy corridor, business linkages and people-to-people contacts through Afghanistan with Central Asia, reflecting our policy of geo-economics.

I found complete convergence on our common concerns among neighbors of Afghanistan.

We plan to intensify our regional approach in the coming days with series of high-level engagements. 

Ladies & Gentlemen,

A few words on our facilitation to international community in their plan to evacuate diplomats and staff, representatives of international organizations, INGOs, the media

We have established a Special Inter-Ministerial Facilitation Cell to facilitate visa and arrival matters.

Pakistan Embassy in Kabul is issuing visas on a fast-track basis.

Visa on arrival is being issued at Pakistan’s international airports.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

We hope for a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan, contributing to regional peace, economic integration and connectivity.

Together, it is possible. Our joint efforts can help us.

I will close my remarks here by reaffirming our commitment to work together with the international community to advance the shared objectives of peace, progress and stability in Afghanistan.

Thank you very much.