Advisor: (Pakistan wants durable peace in Afghanistan: Sartaj)

ISLAMABAD: Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday said that Pakistan desires durable peace in Afghanistan as instability there is not in the interest of Pakistan.

He was addressing the senior officials meeting prior to Ministerial Heart of Asia Conference here on Tuesday. He said Pakistan, therefore, will continue to support all endeavors aiming at strengthening peace and security in Afghanistan.

He stressed that Heart of Asia Conference is an effective platform for promoting regional economic cooperation and connectivity, with Afghanistan at its center. He said it provides an opportunity to member countries in result-oriented engagements for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, and a secure and prosperous region as a whole.

He said since the launching of Heart of Asia conference in 2011, the forum has made good progress towards realization of its core objective of promoting durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

He said the key achievements include political consultation involving Afghanistan and its neighbors and the regional countries with a view to promoting mutual trust in the areas of security and economic interaction.

He said the confidence building measures identified in the Istanbul process document are leading to enhanced regional engagement and cooperation of the Heart Asia countries with Afhganistan in areas of trade and economic, energy, counter terrorism, narcotics, disaster management, regional infrastructure and education.

Sartaj Aziz said as the heart of Asia process is maturing, our focus should be on strengthening engagements and collaboration to effectively combat the formidable challenges facing the region in the field of security as well as promoting regional economic collaboration.

He said the theme of this conference “Enhanced cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the Heart of Asia” is pertinent to the needs of our region.

In his remarks, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hikmat Khalil Karzai called for a united and collective approach to counter the menace of terrorism and violent extremism.

He said the Heart of Asia conference is taking place at a critical juncture when the region is confronted by many challenges including terrorism. He said the activities of terror outfits including Daesh once again reminds us of the gravity of the problem and demands a collective approach to tackle this international phenomenon.

He said Afghanistan is determined to continue fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He said peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of the region.

The Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister said his country attaches importance to have strong relations with all the regional countries for promotion of economic relations and meet the challenges.