REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN OF HIGH COUNCIL FOR NATIONAL RECONCILIATION H.E. DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH INSTITUTE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES ISLAMABAD
Mr. Chairman, Amb. Khalid Mahmood
Director General, Amb. Chaudhry
السلام و علیکم و رحمت الله و برکاته!
Dear friends and colleagues,
I am delighted to be here with you today at the prestigious Institute for Strategic Studies of Islamabad. I look forward to the discussion and our interaction. Dialogue, knowledge based foreign policy and effective diplomacy are main areas of focus for this institute. If I may say so, these are very much needed in today’s environment, in our region and beyond. I am here today for a dialogue not to give you a lecture.
This is my first visit to Pakistan after 12 years. I and my accompanying delegation want to take this opportunity to thank the civilian and military leadership, the civil society, including Pakistan’s vibrant intellectual community, but particularly all citizens of Pakistan from all walks of life for their warm welcome and hospitality. I bring to you, the warm greetings, well wishes and aspirations of the people of Afghanistan . Our people are longing for a peaceful and prosperous future between our two countries. I am confident that we are on the threshold of a new era in bilateral and regional relations based on mutual respect, sincere cooperation and shared prosperity..
I am visiting to Pakistan in a time when a new future, and indeed a peaceful future is the horizon for Afghanistan. On 12th this month in Doha, I opened the first direct peace and reconciliation talks with the Taliban. Now our teams are sitting around one table in Doha, discussing the ways and means of ending decades of conflict through a political settlement in Afghanistan.
Pakistan played a critical role in facilitating this talks, and has even a more important role to play hereon not only supporting the process through a successful end, but also in standing with the people and government of Afghanistan in building a peaceful and prosperous neighborhood
So, my delegation and I thank the government and the people of Pakistan for their efforts and we are looking forward to our joint next the practical steps.
Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am a firm believer that after many troubling years, we now need to go beyond the usual stale rhetoric and shadowy conspiracy theories that have held us back.
We cannot afford to pursue business as usual. We need fresh approaches and our people demand it. It is more urgent than ever to look to our region as one region
We need to look at the realities of the last 30 years in our region and also take into account global geopolitical and geo-economic shifts. We then need to draw the necessary lessons about our gains and losses, threats and opportunities, especially where we could have been today if we had aimed for stronger win-win solutions, reduced tensions, promoted moderation, increased regional connectivity, trade, transit, economic integration, Business to Business (B2B) and importantly People to People (P2P) interactions. I let you distinguish scholars to tell us the cost of non-cooperation the opportunities lost. But as we say in Farsi ((ماهی را هر وقت از آب بگیری تازه است
We all realize that we have made advances in some respects but also lagging behind in other areas in today’s highly competitive and technologically inter-connected world. We are facing serious of threats and challenges that include various shades of terrorism, extremism and intolerance, and more recently the covid-19 pandemic that has not spared any country.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I believe that there is huge untapped security, political and economic potential for cooperation and considering the current geopolitical context of the region, many new windows of opportunities have opened up. Therefore, more than ever both countries need to pursue an enhanced level of interaction for a more peaceful and prosperous coexistence.
The time is now for both our nations to make a strategic detour, define a new vision, address outstanding issues as well as our shared interests, realize that peace and stability in Afghanistan, or any country in our South and Central Asian geography for that matter, can have far-reaching constructive consequences and ripple effects, by setting course on a new path towards neighborliness and greater regional economic integration.
Today, as chair of the High Council for National Reconciliation, my job is to help build consensus and manage our collective efforts to promote reconciliation to justly, inclusively and honorably end the Afghan conflict and seek a political settlement. But to do so, we need to constantly remind ourselves that Afghanistan today is not the country of 1996 or 2001. It is young, diverse, connected nation, eager to freely decide its own future form of government corresponding to its unity and diversity. This transformed nations also want to preserve its core accomplishments including the rights and liberties of all men and women of all communities and groups in Afghanistan.
We do not want a terrorist footprint in our country or to allow any entity to pose a threat to any other nation.
The current intra-Afghan talks offer the best hope to put the war behind and using patience, dialogue and compromise to agree to unite the country.
We appreciate the tremendous efforts by the United States, NATO and other contributing nations and our regional partners for standing by Afghanistan since 2001. We value our strategic partnerships and expect them to see the process through to the next stage.
Dear friends and colleagues,
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan need peace and better prospects. We have both paid a high price by facing various terror groups that are still acting as spoilers. We need to cooperate with other like-minded countries against such elements.
For now, we expect the intra-Afghan process to reach an agreement on rules and procedure followed by an agenda. Meanwhile, we call on all sides to agree to seriously reduce violence and protect civilians from further harm as we aim for a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire.
I also want to thank the people and government of Pakistan for their hospitality to millions of our refugees for now 4 decades. We want to see our refugees voluntarily return to a stable country with honor and a renewed hope for the future.
Peace is not only an Islamic tenant and duty, but it is also that unique historical opportunity that should not be squandered. Now that the ice has been broken, we all have a role and a responsibility to help it move toward fruition and prevent a relapse.
May Allah Almighty guide us in the right path.