UNITED NATIONS - Responding to Afghanistan’s accusations of Pakistani cross-border shelling, Pakistan told the UN Security Council Thursday that Islamabad was exercising ‘considerable restraint’ following the attacks on its checkposts from the Afghan side.
“We have always avoided the blame game and seek to address such issues with objectivity,” Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN told the 15-nation Council.
Pakistan, he said, had a robust security force along its border with Afghanistan and had recently enhanced its presence with checkpoints and regular patrolling.
“Our deployment far exceeds the number of international and Afghan forces deployed on the other side, which might also be the reason why so many attacks take place on the western side in Afghanistan,” Ambassador Haroon said. “We continue to be resolute despite the high human and economic cost of this endeavour.”
He said the cross-border attacks into Pakistan are under active discussion with Isaf in Afghanistan, as part of cooperation between Pakistan and the international force.
Haroon said the UN role in Afghanistan should adjust to emerging realities, including the drawdown of international forces and the ongoing national transition process. Likewise, the cuts in IN the UN mission’s budget must not in any way impact the Organization’s activities in the country.
He then turned to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report to the Security Council, noting that it had highlighted several disparate issues not mentioned thus far in the Council’s meeting.
The report, he pointed out, referred to the visit of Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani and senior members of the High Peace Council where they agreed with the Saudi counterpart on the need to work together with Pakistan in advancing the peace process and utilizing the important role of the Ulema and religious leaders. “This is not necessarily being reflected today but we consider it important enough to be stated,” he told council members.
Ambassador Haroon also voiced concern that the consolidated appeal for aid to Afghanistan remained seriously under-funded.
While that process must be Afghan-led, it must be supported by regional and international partners, the Pakistani envoy said. Yet, he cautioned against any reconciliation that appeared to be forced from outside. “Stability in Afghanistan is essential to Pakistan,” he added.
Earlier, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul told the Council that his country’s ties with Pakistan were being threatened by Pakistani shelling across the two countries’ border.
“Failure to end such attacks risks jeopardizing Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral relations, with potential negative consequences for necessary bilateral cooperation for peace, security and economic development in our two countries and the wider region,” he said.
“We reiterate our call for an immediate and complete end to these acts, which have taken the lives of dozens of Afghans, mainly civilians, while leaving many more wounded,” Rassoul said.