Sharif says no favourites in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (PAN): Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said he had assured President Hamid Karzai that Islamabad “wishes neither to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, nor do we have any favourites.”
Sharif, who is Washington on a four-day state visit, in a speech at the US Institute of Peace told the audience he would urge the United States to end drone strikes which he described as a major irritant in US-Pakistan relations.
Sharif meets President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, his first with the US leader in his third tenure as Pakistan’s prime minister.
The prime minister told the US think-tank experts and policy-makers that US drone strikes had “deeply disturbed and agitated our people.”
As a key neighbouring state, Sharif said a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s vital interest.
“Our efforts are, therefore, focused on helping the stabilisation of Afghanistan, which is going through a vitally important phase, with security and political transition underway,” he said. “Pakistan wishes these landmark transitions to be completed peacefully and smoothly.”
Pakistan also wished the international community to remain engaged in supporting Afghanistan’s reconstruction and economic development.
As an essential element of its policy, Pakistan strongly supports an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, he said.
Pakistan, he said, was also trying to upgrade relations with Afghanistan, in all spheres. “My own vision is that it should be defined by a strong trade and economic partnership.”
The prime minister reminded the audience that besides hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades, Pakistan was also extending assistance worth more than $450 million for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and capacity-building, with special focus on infrastructure, health and education sectors.
Pakistan has also decided to extend the Karachi-Peshawar highway up to Kabul as its modest contribution to bringing Afghanistan into the regional economic hub.
“We believe that we can work with Afghanistan for enhanced regional and economic cooperation that would establish and reinforce regional trade, energy and communication corridors.
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