"We remain committed to supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan in an inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process," Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on national security and foreign affairs, said at a seminar on Afghanistan themed on energy and connectivity on Wednesday. (Agencies)
Aziz said both Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed to work together in a number of energy and connectivity projects besides reaffirming their commitment to further strengthen trade ties under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).
Stating that Afghanistan has invited Pakistan for a joint investment in the Kunar hydro power project, Aziz said the project would produce 1500 MW electricity to be shared by the two countries.
He also stated that the two countries would pursue with the World Bank the early finalization of the 170-km Torkham-Jalalabad new rail link connecting Peshawar in Pakistan with Jalalabad in Afghanistan. "Our region is blessed with immense potentials in terms of natural resources, which if tapped efficiently can yield benefits to the entire region and Afghanistan occupies an important position in the region, straddling Central, West and South Asia," he said.
Stating that Pakistan was keen to continue working with Afghanistan in pursuit of connectivity and energy projects linking Pakistan with central Asia, Aziz said discussions were also continuing on extending APTTA to Tajikistan by finalizing the tripartite agreement under consideration of the three sides.
According to him, as a country struggling to emerge out of decades of instability, Afghanistan was expected to face serious challenges, which could be overcome through a sustained effort involving financial and technical support, infrastructure and human resources.
He said Afghanistan is ideally located to connect energy suppliers and users in its neighbourhood and beyond and gave the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and Central Asia South Asia (CASA-1000) as two examples of projects which make Afghanistan a 'connector'.
These projects hold substantial economic advantages for Afghanistan, in addition to speeding up its own reconstruction and development efforts, he added. Azsiz also said that just last month, Pakistan had signed a tripartite agreement with Afghanistan and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) extending the stay of refugees till December 2015.
"We hope this time will be used to prepare for the return of the refugees to their homeland," he said.
"We continue to believe that their early, honourable and voluntary return, as well as sustainable reintegration, is possible if conducive conditions are created inside Afghanistan," the Prime Minister's adviser said.
Aziz also emphasized that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has presented a vision of a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood, with stable and cooperative relations with all neighbours including Afghanistan.
"We remain committed to supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan in an inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process," Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on national security and foreign affairs, said at a seminar on Afghanistan themed on energy and connectivity on Wednesday.