ISLAMABAD: Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs on Friday said that negative statements regarding Pakistan emanating from Afghanistan are counter-productive and some vested interests are trying to create impression that Pakistan wields total control on Afghan Taliban, but in reality it is not true.
He was speaking at inaugural session of 5th Round of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Bilateral Dialogue here, which was jointly arranged by Regional Peace Initiative (RPI) and German organization Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF). Sartaj Aziz condemned recent terrorist attacks in Kabul saying that Pakistan was trying its best to bring various Afghan factions on dialogue table.
He said that due to instability in Afghanistan it has become fertile land for extremist groups. Pakistan helped in direct talks between Afghan Government and Taliban at Murree in July, 2015. But, now Taliban are not yielding positive response for resumption of dialogue, Sartaj Aziz added.
He said that Coordination Group (QCG) members are making efforts to bring peace back to Afghanistan. He also underscored the need that a positive and clear message should come from Kabul for Afghan Taliban. Without reconciliation, peace cannot return to Afghanistan.
He said that Pakistan was hosting Afghan refugees since 35 years and the policy regarding Afghan refugees is that they can be repatriated on voluntary basis and they cannot be compelled to return to Afghanistan. He was of the view that Pak-Afghan border is being misused by militants and extremists and drug smugglers and urged joint efforts be employed by both countries to secure the borders from these elements in affective manner. Both countries together can counter illegal border crossings and movements, the Advisor said.
Aziz said that QCG is aimed to bring various Afghan factions on table for talks to pave the way for peaceful resolution. But, it needs patience and time too. He welcomed the agreement between Afghan Government and Gulbadin Hikmatyar and hoped that such agreements will be reached with other groups too. He emphasized more interaction between political leadership, military to military, media to media and people to people contact between both countries. He said Pakistan fully supports Afghan peace dialogue with various groups.
He said if peace returns to Afghanistan, Pakistan can go to Central Asian states. Pakistan wants peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, which is in favor of Pakistan. While responding to a question he said that it is a sheer blame that Pakistan is harassing Afghan refugees. He said that due to security situation in Pakistan security forces are dealing under the law with the criminals and extremists. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan said that Afghan refugees’ problem cannot be separately treated. There is mistrust between both countries, which needs to be overcome.
He said negative statements are not helpful for resolving the problems. Trust deficit is major hurdle on the way to normalisation of relations between both countries. This trust deficit is having negative impact on refugees’ related matters and other aspects of bilateral ties between two countries, he maintained.
Afghan Ambassador accepted that no other alternatives and best suggestion lies with us for solution of Afghan refugees’ problem. There are some misperception regarding the refuges and they need to be allayed.
He said that international community supports Afghan peace process. But, majority of Afghan refugee children didn’t have availability of vaccines. He requested international community help regarding the provision of vaccines for the children.
He said that key to Afghan problem lies in restoration of peace therein. Pakistan and Afghanistan are making joint efforts for peace. He requests both governments to isolate politics from refugees’ issue. It is also reality that refugees in Pakistan are facing pressure. Majority of them kept in jails under Foreign Act. Majority of refugees are residing in Pakistan without valid registration. Pakistani people fully helped and supported Afghan refugees here, he maintained.
He said refuges did not opt for this life on their own but circumstances forced them to do so. Kristof W. Duwaerts, Resident Representative HSF and Raoof Hasan, Chief Executive Officer RPI welcomed the speakers and participants.