ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reached out to Afghanistan on Thursday calling it the most important capital in the world where it sought peace, stability and prosperity. “The Heart of Asia initiative reflects a wider acceptance of Pakistan’s long-standing approach to the challenges we face collectively.
We are therefore committed to supporting and participating in it to the fullest extent possible. Pakistan is here because it wants a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Pakistan wants an autonomous, sovereign and strong Afghanistan. We want it because such an Afghanistan is vital for Pakistan’s own peace, Pakistan’s own security, and Pakistan’s own prosperity”, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in her address in Kabul at the Heart of Asia ministerial conference also attended by Turkey.
She said ‘the Heart of Asia’ concept is rooted in the words and philosophy of one of Pakistani nation’s founding fathers, the Muslim poet-philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal.
Khar referred to President Zardari’s commitment at the Nato summit in Chicago where he announced Pakistan’s financial contribution to the Afghan national security forces. “As we plan for the future, it is vital that we support Afghanistan’s capacity to make a full transition toward taking responsibility over its affairs by 2014. While there are formidable challenges, we must not be consumed by negativity.
Pakistan has consistently expressed its conviction that the goal of long-term stability in Afghanistan requires a holistic and all-inclusive approach to problem solving. Durable peace will be a product of intra-Afghan consensus and Afghan ownership, only to be supplemented with the support of its neighbours, the region and the wider international community”, she told her audience.
At the bilateral level, the minister pointed out Pakistan’s engagement with Afghanistan is focused on deepening cooperation in diverse areas. “These include security, peace and reconciliation, trade, transit, education, health, energy and infrastructure development in a way as to effectively contribute towards the goal of long-term stability in Afghanistan”, Khar added.
The minister said that Pakistan is convinced that Afghanistan wants its support. “We will provide as much of it as is possible. This is not a matter of generosity, though Pakistanis have over the years hosted millions of their Afghan brothers and sisters, and take great pride in our hospitality.
In Pakistan, we know that we cannot grow, progress or live peacefully if our neighbours, especially our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, are not growing, progressing or living peacefully”, the minister said.