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Peace, stability prerequisite for economic development in region: Sartaj

21 October, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that peace and stability in Afghanistan were prerequisite for realisation of the agenda of economic development and higher standards of living for the people of the region.

Addressing the concluding session of two-day trilateral Pakistan-China-Afghanistan dialogue on Monday, organised by Pakistan-China Institute, he said that the task to ensure peace and stability in the region was very difficult due to numerous challenges, including extremism, terrorism, narcotics and transnational crimes.

German political and social organisation Konrad Adenaue Stiftung provided support for organising the two-day trilateral dialogue. The dialogue was attended by the diplomats, experts on regional study and intellectuals from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.

The adviser, in his key note address, said, "We also recognise that these challenges can be met through our common resolve and common endeavours and we can march together, hand-in-hand, towards greater peace, stability and prosperity."

He said that it was a moment of "hope and optimism" in Afghanistan as the successful completion of the electoral process and the formation of a national unity government were landmark achievements. "The first-ever peaceful transfer of power from one elected president to another elected one was, rightfully, a matter of pride for the Afghan people," he added.

"This outcome became possible due to the wisdom and sagacity of President Dr Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who placed national interest above all else and it would go a long way in strengthening the stability and unity of Afghanistan," he added.

Aziz said that Afghanistan was indeed fortunate to have the bold vision and strong leadership of President Ashraf Ghani at this crucial juncture. "His agenda of change and reform was far-reaching and the triangle of stability - economy, security and human resource - that he emphasised was indispensable for Afghanistan," he added.

Referring to his visit to Kabul, Sartaj Aziz said that it was a great privilege listening to Ghani's vision for a special relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan and for a connected and economically integrated region.

"I shared with him Pakistan's commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's desire to build a comprehensive and enduring partnership between our two countries," he added.

He said that Ghani also shared with him the vision of an inter-connected region, where trade flourishes and energy flows, through transport corridors, electricity grids and gas pipelines.

Appreciating the efforts of Pakistan-China Institute for organising the dialogue, Sartaj Aziz said that he was grateful to Senator Mushahid Hussain for his invitation and commended the Pakistan-China Institute and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung for holding the international conference.

He said that the Pakistan-China Institute had fast evolved into a vibrant and active think-tank and become a highly important platform for public policy discourse. "It would not be an exaggeration if I said it personifies Senator Mushahid's energy and drive," he added.

Sartaj Aziz termed the imitative "track 1.5" trilateral Pakistan-China-Afghanistan dialogue, to discuss security and political situation in Afghanistan and its implications for neighbouring countries.

He said that the rise of China as a "global actor" was one of the most profound transformations of present times. "China's policy of peaceful development and its growing international outreach serve as the pivotal framework for closer interaction with Afghanistan," he added.

He said that China was the only major power sharing a border with Afghanistan and having a direct stake in its peace and stability and it also had historical friendly ties with the Afghan people.

He said that deepening engagement between China and Afghanistan in the bilateral political, economic, security and cultural fields and the former's contribution to Afghanistan's peaceful reconstruction, were notable developments.

The adviser appreciated Chinese investments in the Aynak copper mine project and Amu Darya Basin oil project and termed it a "major effort to help Afghanistan strengthen the process of its economic development".

End.

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