Reliance on just military force in Afghanistan needs reality check, Pakistan tells UN
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said at the United Nations that it is delusionary to think that simply executing a strategy of force and coercion in Afghanistan will work when the past 17 years show otherwise.
Speaking in the Security Council debate on Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that Afghanistan and its partners, including the US, should focus on challenges inside Afghanistan rather than shift the onus for ending the conflict onto others.
She told the 15-member council that those who imagine sanctuaries outside Afghanistan really need a real reality check.
“With over 40 percent of Afghan territory out of government control – either contested or ungoverned – the insurgency does not need outside support especially with illicit drug trafficking providing the insurgent groups with a steady financial income estimated at millions of dollars a year.
“With its safe havens inside the country and income from the narcotics trade, the insurgency doesn’t need any outside assistance or ‘support centers’ to sustain itself”, the Pakistani envoy asserted.
She reacted sharply to the Indian permanent representative’s allegation in his statement to the Council that “mindsets in Pakistan contributed to instability in Afghanistan” and said, “Those who talk of changing mindsets need to look within, at their own record of subversion against my country as our capture of an Indian spy, (Kulbhushan Jadhav), has proven beyond doubt”.
Calling for a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan, Ambassador Lodhi said that the continuing resort to military force and escalation of the conflict without an accompanying political and diplomatic strategy will not yield a result different from what we have seen.
“It will produce more violence and suffering for the Afghan people, not a political solution”. She noted that despite the large presence of foreign military forces and the huge outlays of external assistance, security has deteriorated and economic growth has remained anemic in Afghanistan. The entire region, she said, has been buffeted by the war, turmoil, terrorism, drugs and instability radiating from Afghanistan.
The international community, Lodhi said, has affirmed time and again, that sustainable peace is only achievable through a negotiated end to the war.
“The Presidential Statement the UN Council adopted this morning again reiterates this firm consensus”, she pointed out.
After 17 years of war, it is more than evident that neither the Afghan government and its military partners, nor the Afghan Taliban are in a position to impose a military solution on each other, she underlined.
But, she said, “It is not enough to pay lip service to a negotiated settlement and then execute a strategy of force and coercion under the delusion that this will work”.
Ambassador Lodhi said, while also calling on the Taliban to abandon the path of violence and join talks. The need stressed is to urgently pursue a credible and sustained peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan aimed at finding a negotiated peace, she said.
The ambassador said Pakistan has as much to gain from peace in Afghanistan as Afghanistan itself.
“My country has been the major victim of terrorism and violence emanating from Afghanistan’s wars and strife,” she pointed out.
She also reminded the Council that Pakistan continues to host the largest protracted presence of refugees anywhere in the world. We are fighting and defeating terrorism within Pakistan, she said, adding that Pakistan’s counter terrorism campaign, the largest in the world, deploying a 200,000 strong military force, has turned the tide against terrorism in the country”.
But, she said that Pakistan’s ability to totally eliminate terrorist acts in Pakistan depends on effective control of our long border with Afghanistan.
For that “We have enforced stringent border management measures on our side of the border and look forward to Afghanistan matching what we have done on their side of the border”.
She also reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to not allowing its territory to be used for attacks against any country.