KABUL - President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday reaffirmed Pakistan’s full support for stable Afghanistan and expressed solidarity with the Afghan people in their pursuit of peace and stability.
Pakistan continues to support and facilitate efforts for an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, he said in a speech at the Quadrilateral Summit of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan.
President Hussain is in the Afghan capital to participate in the Nowruz festival also amid allegations that Pakistani intelligence may have played a role in deadly attacks in Kabul last week – a suggestion Pakistan vehemently denied.
Nowruz, the Persian New Year, is a major holiday in Afghanistan.
The president said, “We have consistently emphasized the centrality of a political solution and underscored the need for all Afghans to join the peace talks. We are convinced that the road to sustainable peace in Afghanistan lies only through peaceful dialogue.”
He said that countries in the region could help the process, based on the principles of non-interference and mutual respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.
The summit was also attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Tajikistan Emomalii Rahman.
President Hussain said that they were meeting in Kabul at a pivotal moment in the history of their Afghan brothers.
“The security, political and economic transitions underway in Afghanistan are of immense importance. We wish Afghanistan every success, including in the forthcoming presidential elections and democratic transition,” he added.
The president said the defining element of Pakistan's vision of a “peaceful neighbourhood” was mutual understanding and trust.
“As part of this vision, we have reached out to all our neighbours and are seeking to build qualitatively enhanced relations,” he added.
He opined that peace and security were no longer divisible, adding “We cannot remain peaceful if our neighbourhood or region is not at peace. We face common challenges of extremism, terrorism, drug trafficking and trans-national organised crime.”
Stressing upon strengthening of mutual cooperation further, the president said that the four countries were already cooperating in different formats and settings to combat and address these challenges.
“Our four countries offer a unique confluence of Central Asia, West Asia and South Asia with immense – yet still untapped – economic, commercial and energy potential. Together, we can play an important bridging role,” the president observed.
He said deeper economic cooperation in the region can usher in a new era of well-being and shared prosperity.
“Our countries are already working together on different energy, connectivity and infrastructure projects including CASA-1000, TAPI, Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, and road and rail links,” he added.
Mamnoon Hussain expressed the hope that besides, boosting trade and commerce, such projects would also help reinforce efforts for reconstruction and economic development in Afghanistan.
He maintained that Pakistan's endeavour with Afghanistan was to forge a comprehensive and multi-faceted relationship, marked by a trade and economic partnership.
The president reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to enhance bilateral trade in the coming years with increased collaboration in the investment, energy and agriculture sectors.
“Pakistan has enhanced its bilateral assistance for reconstruction and rehabilitation in Afghanistan to US$ 500 million. Our focus is on projects in infrastructure, roads and rails links, health, education and capacity-building,” he added.