Sartaj advocates regional non-interference approach to Afghanistan


• Security adviser says Pakistan would not like to force Kabul into signing a security accord
• Says India should also be taken onboard the Afghan peace process

Advocating a “regional non-interference” approach to Afghanistan, National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz has said only Afghans and not outsiders – should fill the power vacuum that might appear in the wake of US and NATO forces drawdown in that country.
“The Afghan power vacuum should not be filled by outside forces,” he told Washington-based Pakistani reporters at the Pakistani embassy, at the end of Pakistan-US strategic dialogue, which he led with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the US State Department.
Aziz, the top national security and foreign affairs advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was questioned as to what would happen vis-a-vis power vacuum in Afghanistan, when the US and NATO forces leave the country by the end of the year.
“Afghans should fill the vacuum themselves and not any foreign countries – it is Afghans who should decide about themselves – let the Afghans fill the power vacuum,” said Aziz, who was flanked by Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani.
“And once the Afghans reach a decision, then we can compete in development and reconstruction work in that country. But the regional countries should not compete in filling the power vacuum.”
Pakistan has been urging this broad approach, as Afghanistan moves towards security transition at the end of a long conflict while experts fear a replay of the past proxy fighting.
“There should be a regional non-interference approach to Afghanistan,” Aziz said, adding that the policy would work if all countries follow it, not just Pakistan.
“There can be no peace in Afghanistan unless all countries of the region follow the same policy of non-interference and having no favourites in that country,” he said.
Afghanistan will not be able to achieve peace and stability if external interference continues in the form of proxies supported by outside powers, he said, in reference to the role of the regional countries including Pakistan, Iran, India, and central asian states.
Responding to a question on the issue of delay in conclusion of Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington, Aziz said it is matter for the two countries to decide, and that Pakistan would not like to force Afghanistan into signing the accord as it is a sovereign country.
He noted in reply to a question that experts assess that Afghan security forces will at the moment need support to contain insurgency.
“But our concern is that hostilities in Afghanistan can spill over into Pakistan. Therefore, we have to do better border management with Afghanistan. We could have a flood of refugees if there is infighting in Afghanistan,” he said, pointing out that Pakistan is already hosting three million refugees.
Better management, he explained, means enforcement on both sides to check movement either way on Pak-Afghan border. This, he said, could be done through increase in the number of two crossings currently in use. Also, both sides should ensure that people travel with proper documentation under easement rights. He said as much as 100,000 Afghans cross into Pakistan from the border every day.
In his remarks at the strategic dialogue, he underlined Pakistan’s concerns vis-a-vis Afghan stability and said that India should be taken into account on this issue.
Aziz said Islamabad and Washington share the objective that Afghanistan should have peace and stability.
He said that Pakistan and the United States will work out a framework on reimbursement for expenditures Pakistan incurs on transportation of supplies. Presently, the reimbursements are covered under the US Coalition Support Funds head.


    • It’s 2014 and we leave …
      Screw dialogues and agreements …
      Let them go on (live?) slapping each other every morning …

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