Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday said the concept of ‘strategic depth’ is obsolete and Pakistan is committed to moving together with Afghanistan to attain the goals of peace and economic prosperity.
“Peace in Afghanistan is a shared responsibility and no failure or mistake should be blamed on Pakistan,” the foreign minister said at the inaugural session of the conference titled ‘Pakistan-Afghanistan Bilateral Dialogue’ organised by the Regional Peace Institute in Islamabad.
Qureshi said that Pakistan would not take responsibility if it was blamed for any deterioration in the Afghan peace process. He said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and a core group will reportedly be travelling to Washington soon. “I wish them luck and a good visit but let me spell it down in advance. If the objective of going to Washington is starting a new blame game and holding Pakistan responsible for all the ills [in Afghanistan] and the lack of [progress in the peace] process, then it will not help.
It is a shared responsibility and nobody is going to buy it anymore that if things go wrong [then] Pakistan is responsible. We will not take responsibility,” he said, adding that Pakistan is “honest and sincere” in building a peace process in Afghanistan.
He said it is up to Afghans to decide the way forward for the country and find people who could do that. “Afghanistan needs leadership that can negotiate a successful outcome [and] that can transit this country into peace and is not worried about perpetuation [and] hanging on to power,” he said, adding that Pakistan wants to resolve the mutual issues with Afghanistan under the mechanism of APPAPS (Afghanistan-Pakistan Plan of Action for Peace and Solidarity). Stressing the policy of geo-economics, he said such stability was not possible without peace in the region. Peace is vital to promote trade and investment, he added.
Qureshi said the conflict of Afghanistan was political in nature and Pakistan was also advocating for a political solution through comprehensive dialogue. He said violence and reconciliation could not go side by side and mentioned that Pakistan stressed on moving towards a ceasefire by controlling the incidents of violence.
Qureshi stressed that Pakistan wants to partner with Afghanistan, the region and the US to counter terrorism, adding that Pakistan had suffered and ‘paid a price’ in lives lost, soldiers martyred, mosques bombed and loss to the economy. “I as the elected representative of Pakistan, do not want to see ‘Talibanisation’ of Pakistan. How can I be more clear than that?” he said, adding that his vision of the country was based on the values advocated by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
He said Pakistan has taken a ‘very clear decision’ to not interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. “We have no favourites, there is a general buzz that we are advocates of the Taliban. I am not and I don’t represent them, I represent Pakistan. Taliban are Afghans,” he emphasised.
He said multiple Afghan leaders from every ethnic group had been invited to Islamabad to send the clear message that Pakistan wanted to engage with all ethnic communities and leaders “who matter and are important for peace and reconciliation”. “That is why we have been inviting you and will continue to invite your leadership to achieve our common objective of peace and stability,” he added.