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    Pakistan says has high stakes in Afghanistan

    WASHINGTON (PAN): Pakistan, having a high stake in Afghanistan, did not consider the neighbouring country a strategic backyard, the new Pakistani ambassador to the US said on Wednesday.

    “We do not consider Afghanistan our strategic backyard, as many claim we do, but we do have the highest stakes in Afghan stability, since we simply cannot afford the blowback from a civil war there,” Sherry Rehman said.

    Speaking at the US Institute for Peace (USIP), she said: “Our motives in the region are driven by a legitimate anxiety about the security transition in a post-US drawdown timeline in Afghanistan, certainly not by any ambition.”

    In her first public appearance after taking up the assignment early this year, Rehman said Pakistan considered Afghanistan its brother. “In a few days, we will be hosting a trilateral summit between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan at the highest level in order to broaden regional stakes in an Afghan-led peace.”

    Rehman said there was no absence of political will or commitment on the part of Pakistan to fight against terrorism. “We are in full overstretch militarily in all the tribal areas on our western border, and with thin deployments from the Afghan side of the border, we face a substantial security threat from insurgents and militants.”

    The terrain was hostile to monitoring and border indictments needed to match security operations on both sides. The NATO charter did not even include narcotics policing as a formal roster of duty for its patrols, she explained.

    “It is impossible to open all fronts at one time, especially given the conflict in Afghanistan constantly spilling over into Pakistan both twenty years ago, and once again today.

    “So this is a capacity issue as much as a sequencing challenge, and we often feel we are fighting this long battle with one hand tied behind our backs,” remarked the ambassador. 

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