Pakistan facing big threat of TTP, ISIS-K from Afghan soil: FM Jilani

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NEW YORK, :Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on Wednesday said that Pakistan was facing the biggest concern at present with an enhanced threat from the terrorist organizations, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and ISIS-K (Islamic State – Khorasan Province).

The foreign minister expressed concern over the outfits’ ability to use the Afghan soil to launch attacks on Pakistan.

He was speaking on Pakistan’s foreign policy and its quest for peace, stability, and shared prosperity at an event of Asia Society, held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

Jilani said Pakistan remained closely engaged with the interim government of Afghanistan on the issue.

Highlighting Pakistan’s commitment to fighting and defeating the terrorists, he stressed that terrorist outfits trying to gain a foothold in Afghanistan should be treated as a threat to the neighbourhood and the entire international community.

After Afghanistan itself, Jilani said, Pakistan had the greatest stake in Afghanistan, i.e., peace within and with its regional and international partners.

“This objective lies at the heart of our efforts to directly engage with the Afghan interim government as well as cooperate with the international community on Afghanistan,” he said.

The foreign minister mentioned that Pakistan had been hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades and would continue to work with the Afghan authorities and the international community for their return to their homeland.

He pointed out that Pakistan shared the international community’s concerns over the human rights situation in Afghanistan, especially issues related to women’s rights, girls’ education, and women’s employment.

He mentioned that de-linking aid from political considerations was the key to avert humanitarian crises in Afghanistan.

Jilani said Pakistan was committed to playing its part in the comity of nations to address the pressing challenges of the time and realize its vision for peace, stability, justice, equity, and shared prosperity.

“We are committed to moving our economy to macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth, and are undertaking ambitious reforms to realize our vision,” he said.

Pakistan’s priorities, he said, were to attract investment, improve the ease of doing business, and streamline the regulatory regime.

As regards Pakistan’s relations with the United States, he termed the same one of the most consequential of bilateral relationships. ” From our independence onwards, Pakistan partnered with the US in promoting regional and global peace, stability, and prosperity.”

He said two important transformations had taken place in Pakistan-US ties. Firstly security and defence cooperation remained an important pillar, while equal emphasis was being laid by both sides to strengthen cooperation in non-security areas like trade and investment, climate change, energy, health, agriculture, IT (information technology) and tech sector.

Secondly, “the relationship now stands de-hyphenated from all other bilateral ties, and both sides are focused on tapping the inherent potential of standalone bilateral relations”, he added.

“These two transformations together provide us the ideal launching pad to enter a new era in our bilateral relationship,” he said.

The foreign minister said the Pakistani-American community had been tirelessly complementing the country’s efforts to strengthen Pakistan-US ties.

He said Pakistan desired peaceful and cooperative neighborly ties with India. Unfortunately, he said, Pakistan positive outreach and peace overtures, including his predecessor’s visit to India for the SCO meeting, were met with negativity.

“India’s illegal actions in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and abhorrent human rights violations of innocent Kashmiris at the hands of Indian security forces have further deteriorated relations,” he added.

In such a complex environment, he said, objectives of regional peace and stability called for peaceful constructive dialogue on all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

“India’s belligerence and anti-Pakistan rhetoric for domestic electorate are taking us farther away from these objectives,” he added.

The foreign minister said Pakistan’s relations with China were historical and anchored in strong trade and economic ties.

He said China was Pakistan’s largest trading partner and a major investor, especially in infrastructure and energy sectors, and its flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

However, he stressed that Pakistan’s relations with China were not a zero-sum game and not at the expense of its relations with any other country, least of all with the US with which it had robust ties.

“We believe we can have close and cooperative relations with both the US and China,” he said. “Having acted as a bridge between the two countries in the past, we remain convinced that stable and cooperative relationship between the US and China is instrumental for global growth, development, and security.”

On the Ukraine crisis, he said Pakistan would continue to play a constructive role to help end the war and mitigate the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

“We hope that peace would prevail to allow people of both Russia and Ukraine to enjoy its dividends,” he said, urging early resumption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

On international cooperation for global peace and prosperity, he said Pakistan had always been a strong advocate for multilateralism, believing that through dialogue and diplomacy, “we can resolve conflicts, alleviate poverty, and achieve sustainable development”.

“Pakistan also considers arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts as vital tools to promote the goals of peace and security at the global and regional levels,” he said.

The foreign minister termed climate change another pressing global challenge and said as last year’s devastating floods bear testament, Pakistan was on the receiving end of the worst impacts of climate change despite being one of the lowest contributors to global warming.

“We are doing our part to combat it by investing, with the help of our friends like the US, in reconstruction, tapping renewable energy, reforestation, and sustainable agriculture practices,” he said.