ISLAMABAD - National Security Adviser Lt General (R) Nasser Khan Janjua Thursday said Pakistan and India were nuclear powers and both needed to engage each other, resolve disputes and move forward as their tense relationship was having an effect on the whole region.
Speaking at a seminar on “peace a dividend for development and stability in Afghanistan”, he said relations between India and Pakistan were not good. “Both countries are not talking to each other and the relations between them are tense.” The two countries had to think whether they wanted to remain enemies forever, he added. He said Pakistan would continue to play its role for peace in the region and would work along with Afghanistan under their cooperative framework to achieve regional stability.
“Peace in Afghanistan is necessary for stability in the region. Pakistan direly wanted peace and progress in Afghanistan.” He recalled that Afghanistan was abandoned by world powers after the withdrawal of USSR which created a vacuum. Afterwards, the attack on United States on 9/11 created chaos and everyone supported United States in the war on Afghanistan and the US dismantled Taliban regime by using excessive force.
“We are now trying that Taliban join the political process but at that time after 9/11 they were not allowed to take part in the elections.” The adviser said 35,000 Pakistani citizens and 22,000 soldiers of all ranks and seniority were martyred because of militancy in Pakistan, which had to bear financial cost of billions of dollars. He told that it was very difficult to manage the Pak-Afghan border because of the treacherous terrain. Hundreds of routes existed in FATA areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from where thousands of people daily cross borders. He opined that Pakistan and Afghanistan were ideally located, had huge economic potential and by developing cooperative relationship could have a great common future.
He welcomed the Afghan leadership’s desire seeking peace through dialogue saying Pakistan would facilitate the noble initiative as peace in Afghanistan was essential for peace in Pakistan, which had supported efforts for political reconciliation. “Pakistan will continue to support peace efforts in Afghanistan.”
The adviser said Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan needed to become massive trade corridors, adding Pakistan could become an industrial hub and could connect consumer markets from Asia to Europe. Ambassador (R) Rustam Shah Mohmand said it was not true that there was complete disorder and catastrophe in Afghanistan, adding new power stations, hospitals, universities and infrastructure projects were built in Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of children were going to schools and agriculture sector growth was phenomenal. Afghanistan had tremendous reserves of natural resources like oil, gas, gold, copper, iron ore, lithium and other precious metals, he added.
He said however, this was one side of the picture, and the downside was frightening in scale. Afghanistan which had revenues of $ two billion was spending $4.5 billion every year on its police and security forces.
The unemployment was at an alarming rate of 40 percent, 39 percent of the population was living below the poverty line and the opium production had gone up to 6,000 tonnes increasing heroin addicts in the region by millions destroying social fabric of societies, he added. - APP