ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday strongly condemned the surge in attacks by the Afghan Taliban under their Operation Azm offensive, which Pakistan termed as acts of terrorism.
“All sanctuaries, when found, will be eliminated by direct action, and will be monitored by the existing mechanism,” Nawaz said, adding “Any effort by any militant or group to destabilise Afghanistan will be dealt with severely and such elements will be outlawed and hunted down.”
“In case of terrorist activity, both Pakistan and Afghanistan retain the right of counter actions in conjunction … We agreed that peace and stability in the region will remain elusive until the menace of terrorism afflicting the region is comprehensively addressed,” he added.
The prime minister expressed confidence that Pakistan and Afghanistan would succeed in rooting out the menace of terrorism through their firm determination and by adopting a comprehensive and coordinated strategy.
He said that Pakistan had the highest stake in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
“We stand in strong solidarity with Afghanistan. I assure you that the enemies of Afghanistan cannot be friends of Pakistan … We both recognise that an enduring peace in Afghanistan will be a distant dream without an inclusive intra-Afghan reconciliation.”
Nawaz reaffirmed Pakistan’s full support for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process, and assured President Ashraf Ghani of making all possible efforts in this regard.
The prime minister, who was on a day-long visit to Afghanistan, reiterated an offer for the capacity building of the Afghan police, including training.
Nawaz Sharif said both sides had discussed ways to realise the full potential of their “well endowed reservoir of human and material resources” and said these measures included expanding trade, increasing investments, improving infrastructure, building road and rail links, and enhancing energy collaboration.
He also stressed the need for fast-track progress on trans-regional energy projects to advance the goal of greater regional integration.
“I underlined Pakistan’s resolve to further deepen our defence and security partnership with Afghanistan, including through enhanced cooperation along the border and human resource development.”
He also assured the Afghan President of Pakistan’s continued engagement with regional and international processes in support of his country.
The prime minister said that as co-chair of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in 2015, Pakistan would steer the process in line with the Afghan priorities and aspirations.
Nawaz Sharif said that Afghanistan had a special place in the hearts of Pakistanis.
“There are no other two countries that have so much in common. We are friends. We are brothers. We have stood shoulder to shoulder through every trial and tribulation.
“It is always a pleasure to be in Afghanistan and among my Afghan brethren. Coming to Afghanistan is like coming to my second home.”
The prime minister also reaffirmed his commitment to continue working with “my brother President Ashraf Ghani, for prosperity and development of our two peoples and in advancing our shared objectives of peace and stability in the region.”
He concluded by raising the slogan of “Pak-Afghan Dosti Painda baad.”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, while stressing further closer cooperation between the two brotherly countries, said both had suffered due to terrorism – a common threat.
The spectre of terrorism had targeted children in Peshawar as well as Afghanistan, and both countries had to confront it jointly, he added.
President Ghani said the enemies of Pakistan were the enemies of Afghanistan.
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— The Daily Mail - People's Daily