Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Tuesday called for a solution for peace in Afghanistan, generated from within, with the combined support of the United States, the United Kingdom and Pakistan.
Clegg termed Pakistan’s role as ‘most important’ in ensuring peace in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the US-led Nato forces.
Addressing a joint news conference at the Lancaster House after the two leaders held a luncheon meeting, Gilani and Clegg agreed that Afghanistan had the capacity to deal with the situation on its own, but insisted that support from the US, UK and Pakistan was important for its future.
Gilani said Pakistan and Afghanistan had realised that both countries had suffered a lot in the fight against terrorism. “If it has to be a solution [for Afghanistan], then any process that leads to peace in this country would be supported by Pakistan,” he said, asserting that a stable Afghanistan, with non-interference in its internal affairs, was important for regional and global peace.
He added that Pakistan favoured engaging with the Afghan leadership and was committed to the process that was Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. Gilani also urged for increased trade and market access for Pakistani products into the European markets to stabilise the country’s economy and address issues of poverty and unemployment. Later, Gilani also met with chief executives of Oxfam, Islamic Relief and Save the Children UK.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2011.