Pakistan facilitating Afghan peace efforts
WASHINGTON: Pakistan is working with the United States to facilitate an Afghan-owned and -led reconciliation process, says Ambassador Sherry Rehman while also assuring Ameri-can lawmakers that Islamabad is equally determined to fight terrorists inside its borders.
In an article in The Hill newspaper, which is distributed among US lawmakers, the Pakistani ambassador also emphasised the need to move the bilateral relationship from aid to trade.
“The economic impact (of such a move) on our side will be incalculable,” she wrote.
Ms Rehman assured the lawmakers that Pakistan was on their side as they try to make an important security and political transition in Afghanistan.
She noted that even at the lowest ebb of Pakistan-US relations earlier this year, “we made a conscious effort to shield the Pakistan-Afghanistan-United States trilateral process from adverse impact”.
Commenting on US-Pakistan relations, the ambassador noted as relations improve, “we seek greater market access to the US”.
While the impact of greater market access to Pakistan on US jobs will be negligible, it will generate great economic progress in Pakistan, she said.
“It will spur economic activity, generate employment, give the country’s enormous youth cohort an avenue to earn a living, and above all, give ordinary Pakistanis a stake in an enduring Pakistan-US relationship,” she said. The ambassador reminded the US Congress that it had a leading role to play in this effort.
Underlining Pakistan’s efforts to fight terrorism at home, the ambassador noted that in an historic joint session, the Pakistan’s parliament had adopted unanimously a resolution condemning terrorism.
She said Pakistan was also deeply aware of concern of members of the Congress about US casualties in Afghanistan attributed to IEDs.
She pointed out that the situation in Pakistan’s parliament was similar as the country also had suffered 15,851 IED-related deaths. This was 43 per cent of all casualties over the past four years.
“We identify with the US on this issue,” she said while noting that only one-tenth of 1 per cent of calcium ammonium nitrate produced in Pakistan as fertiliser was allegedly smuggled across the border into Afghanistan.
Pakistan was effectively monitoring 99.9 per cent of its production, while still waiting for a matching interdiction on the other side, she said.
“Nevertheless, we are still determined to keep our shoulder to this wheel and stop that leakage too,” she added.