Pakistan FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Accusing Islamabad of Terrorism is Heinous

Pakistan FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Accusing Islamabad of Terrorism is Heinous

Monday, 5 February, 2018 - 07:45
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. (AFP)
Riyadh - Fateh al-Rahman Youssef
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif condemned accusations that his country was supporting terrorism in Afghanistan, deeming such charges as “heinous.”

He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Nothing can be farther from the truth in these heinous accusations. Pakistan believes in the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of all countries, in particular Afghanistan.”

“We want to have a relationship with Afghanistan that is befitting of the two sovereign neighboring countries. On the internal conflict in Afghanistan, we have always desired an Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process.”

“Pakistan does not allow the use of its territory for attacks against Afghanistan,” stressed the minister.

On the internal conflict in the neighboring country, he remarked: “We had long wanted a peace process that is purely led by Afghanistan.”

Pakistan is host to three million Afghans, who had fled the unrest in their country in the past three decades, he noted, adding: “We have been an exemplary host community in this regard, which is reflective of our commitment towards the well-being of the Afghan people.”

“But we have also paid a heavy price because of the continuing conflict in Afghanistan. Had there been peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan would have been spared from the scourge of terrorism, extremism, narcotics and illegal weapons. It is therefore crystal clear to any logical observer that a peaceful, prosperous and stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan,” he declared.

“Pakistan, therefore, does not allow its territory to be used against Afghanistan. We also do not want any country to use Afghan territory against us. To ensure this, we continue to take necessary steps in our territory and demand that they are reciprocated across the western border as well. Pakistan has also made many proposals to Afghanistan for effective border management, which are crucial to achieving our objectives. We continue to hope for Afghanistan’s cooperation,” added Asif.

“Pakistan has articulated “Peace for development” as the defining principle of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Our vision of peaceful neighborhood hinges on the principles of building cooperative and good neighborly relations with all regional countries on the basis of mutual respect and sovereign equality,” he said.

Asked to assess Saudi-Pakistani ties, Asif commented that the two countries “enjoy tight and fraternal ties that stem from joint religious and cultural values.”

“The Saudi leadership has a special place in the heart of Pakistanis and the Pakistani people have great appreciation for Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” King Salman bin Abdulaziz, said the FM.

“The two countries also support each other at various international organizations, including the United Nations. Our relations are all encompassing, including strong security ties and robust economic relations.”

“Together, we are working to improve bilateral trade ties, as well as developing close collaboration towards realization of our developmental goals. Both countries have a lot to gain from this, as Saudi Arabia embarks on its implementation of Vision 2030 and Pakistan set to grow through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).”

The relationship is also based on deep mutual trust, which is demonstrated in the similar stances Saudi Arabia and Pakistan take on several regional and international issues, he continued.

Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East, Asif said that the Kingdom plays a “pioneering role” inside the region and beyond its borders.

“Saudi Arabia is a leading country in the Middle East and beyond. It has the unique honor and privilege of being the Custodian of the two holy mosques. The people in Pakistan and the Muslims across the globe have a lot of reverence and veneration for the Kingdom.”

“Naturally, all Islamic countries look up to Saudi Arabia for leadership, as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is also based in Jeddah. Pakistan appreciates and lauds the efforts of the Saudi leadership in bringing peace and stability in the region. We have been assuring the leadership of the Kingdom and its people, our full support in this regard.”

Asif also highlighted the role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, for spearheading the Islamic Coalition to combat terrorism, hoping that this united platform would effectively combat the terror threat that is tarnishing the real image of Islam.

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