‘Big power friction’ threatening peace in Asia: Abbasi

| Tells UNGA, Pakistan not prepared to be anyone's scapegoat in Afghanistan | Accuses India of committing war crimes in Held Kashmir | Warns Delhi against limited war doctrine

ISLAMABAD -  Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday said that “emerging big power friction” was threatening peace and prosperity in Asia.

He, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, said that the renewed East-West tensions might engulf Europe in another “Cold War”.

“Peace and prosperity in Asia is threatened by emerging big power friction and rising tensions in South, East and West Asia,” Abbasi added.

The prime minister said the Middle East was wracked by war and violence in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.

“Although Daesh appears to have been weakened in Iraq and Syria, terrorist violence has spread and intensified across the Middle East and Africa and other parts of the world,” he said.

The premier said that there was no end in sight to the tragedy of Palestine. “Israel’s prolonged occupation and expansion of illegal settlements may lead to renewed and wider violence in the holy land,” he said.

On Afghanistan, the prime minister said that peace could be restored in Afghanistan only through a negotiated settlement. He called for promoting negotiations between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

Abbasi said neither Kabul and the coalition forces nor the Afghan Taliban could impose a military solution on each other.

He said that Taliban safe havens were located not in Pakistan but in the large tracts of territory controlled by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Abbasi said some anti-Pakistan terrorists had established safe havens across the border in Afghanistan to carry out attacks in Pakistan.

The prime minister asked the Afghan government and the coalition to support and complement Pakistan's ongoing efforts to strengthen border controls and monitor all movement across it.

He said Pakistan was not prepared to fight the Afghan war on its own soil nor it endorsed any failed strategy that would prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and other regional countries.

The prime minister said Pakistan believed that the urgent and realistic goals should be elimination of Daesh, Al-Qaeda and their affiliates including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jamaatul Ahrar in Afghanistan.

Highlighting Pakistan's sacrifices in war on terror, Abbasi said Pakistan had paid a heavy price as over 27,000 Pakistanis including 6,500 military and law enforcement personnel had been killed by the terrorists.

The prime minister said that Pakistan suffered economic losses of over $120 billion.

He said defeating terrorist violence “is vital to realise our overriding priority of rapid economic and social development.”

Abbasi did not directly criticise US President Donald Trump's new strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia but complained against maligning of Pakistan.

“Having suffered and sacrificed so much due to our role in the global counterterrorism campaign, it is especially galling for Pakistan to be blamed for the military or political stalemate in Afghanistan,” Abbasi said, adding: “We are not prepared to be anyone's scapegoat.”

Unfortunately, he said the principles of the UN Charter had been progressively eroded in the new millennium.

“In recent years some countries have displayed a growing proclivity to resort to unilateral force and intervention against other states. Coercion and threats have emerged again as the main currency in the management of inter-state disputes and differences,” the PM said.

He added: “What Pakistan is not prepared to do is to fight the Afghan war on Pakistan's soil. Nor can we endorse any failed strategy that will prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and other regional countries.”

Abbasi called for a just, peaceful and expeditious resolution of the Kashmir dispute. He said India was unwilling to resume the peace process with Pakistan and the UN Security Council should fulfil its obligation to secure the implementation of its own resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.

Abbasi asked the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, to appoint a special envoy on Kashmir to help resolve the longstanding issue.

He said Pakistan remained open to resuming a comprehensive dialogue with India to address all outstanding issues, especially Kashmir for peace and security in the region.

Abbasi said despite over 600 ceasefire violations by India since January this year, Pakistan had acted with restraint. He said any venture from or act upon its doctrine of limited war against Pakistan would evoke a strong and matching response.

Abbasi demanded an international investigation into India's crimes in Kashmir.

The premier said that terrorism was now a global phenomenon, which must be addressed comprehensively.

He said stability would be difficult to restore unless state-sponsored terrorism was condemned, prohibited and punished.

Abbasi said that Pakistan was a peace-loving country and was obliged to maintain the capability for credible deterrence as it was confronted by a hostile and increasingly militarised neighbour.

He said that Pakistan developed nuclear weapons only when those were introduced in its region by this neighbour.

Abbasi said Pakistan's strategic assets were tightly and effectively controlled, as had been widely acknowledged by experts.

Talking about climate change challenges, the prime minister said that it was “in our collective interest to pursue and realise the goals of the Paris Agreement and build a new and greener model for growth and development.”

On Pakistan’s economic achievements, Abbasi said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would further contribute to the economic upsurge.

The prime minister said that Pakistan sought good relations with all states on the basis of sovereign equality.

Abbasi, condemning ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, said that it was not just an affront to all norms of humanity but also challenged the collective conscience.

Later, speaking to journalists, Prime Minister Abbasi said that Pakistan had effectively put across its point of view on important issues on the occasion of the UNGA session in New York.

The premier said that Pakistan’s position was positively viewed and “we heard no voice for do more.”

Abbasi said that his delegation had extensive interaction with world leaders and they understood Pakistan's point of view.

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