CHICAGO: With the fate of Afghanistan and Pakistan inextricably linked, President Asif Ali Zardari, stressed a partnership based approach as the way forward, while addressing the Nato summit in Chicago on Monday.
With Nato, and US President Barack Obama reaffirming their support to Afghanistan, that they would not abandon the war torn country, Zardari too extended support to a peaceful transition in Pakistan’s western neighbour, per the text of his speech released on Monday.
“A peaceful, prosperous and stable Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s national interest,” the President said, before announcing $5 million for the Afghan National Security Forces, with an additional $15 million in training and equipment.
Continuing on this partnership scheme, he said that Pakistan wanted to extend transit trade to Tajikistan and that Pakistan wished to be a part of all initiatives to assist and support economic integration of the region surrounding Afghanistan.
“We all have a stake in durable peace.”
Parliament’s guide lines
Talking about the new engagement policy for Pakistan, as spelled out by the Parliament, Zardari reiterated that the guide lines set by the PCNS recommendations favoured an approach of cooperation and partnership.
For these to survive the long run, he added that as per Parliament’s recommendations, these partnerships must be founded on mutual respect for sovereignty and a cooperative spirit.
“The message I bring to you from Pakistan is that we believe in partnerships based on trust and respect.”
Zardari pointed out that Pakistan had suffered the most losses, but it remained committed to fighting terrorism and extremism, and to root out al Qaeda remnants.
With one of the calls at the summit being that Pakistan expedite the reopening of Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs), the President said that negotiators were still engaged, with the Defence Committee of the Cabinet issuing directives to conclude them as quickly as possible.
In the end, Zardari said “let us fight together, not just against forces of terrorism and extremism, but also against illiteracy, illicit drugs, hunger, poverty and disease.”
“Ours is a battle of hearts and minds, of the young and the old and of the men and women alike.”
Brief Zardari, Obama meeting
While it wasn’t a sitdown meeting, the US President Barack Obama and Pakistani President Zardari finally met on the sidelines of the NATO Summit.
According to a White House statement, President Obama spoke with the Pakistani premier twice on Monday. “They had a brief one-on-one conversation as they made their way into the ISAF meeting this morning. Later this afternoon, the President had the chance to briefly speak with President Zardari and President Karzai, underscoring their shared commitment to an Afghan-led reconciliation process to bring the war to a responsible end,” said the statement from the White House.
The meeting took place after US media reported that President Obama had refused to meet President Zardari as Pakistan had still not re-opened the NATO supply routes.