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Terrorist safe havens exist in ungoverned areas of Afghanistan, not Pakistan: Maleeha Lodhi – Pakistan

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi on Saturday emphasised that peace in Afghanistan cannot be restored by the continuing resort to military force. She said neither Kabul and the Nato coalition, nor the Afghan Taliban, could impose a military solution on each other.

“The promotion of a political settlement and the pursuit of a military solution are mutually incompatible. You cannot kill and talk at the same time,” the Pakistani envoy told the UN Security Council during an open debate on the situation in Afghanistan.

“Another resort to the military option will not produce a result different from the past. It will not break the impasse much less yield a political solution,” Lodhi said, urging the Taliban to give up violence and stressing that the other side, too, must display a genuine desire for dialogue.

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She said the violence and terrorism afflicting Afghanistan are the consequences of foreign military interventions, occupation and an imposed war.

Sustainable peace in Afghanistan is only achievable through a negotiated end to the war, a course long advocated by Pakistan, she said.

The envoy said 16 years of war, waged by the world’s most powerful forces against an “insurgency of irregulars”, had not yielded a military solution.

“This failure cannot be explained away by alleging the existence of safe havens for the insurgency across the border,” she said.

Denying US allegations about the presence of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, she said such enclaves exist in areas of Afghanistan that are not under government control.

“There are no such safe havens (in Pakistan),” she said. “The only havens that exist for the insurgents and for Daesh [militant Islamic State] and other terrorists are within the 40 per cent of Afghan territory which is outside the control of the Afghan Government.”

Lodhi said apart from the conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban-led insurgency, a new threat has emerged in Afghanistan: the presence of a conglomerate of terrorists from various parts of the world which have all now adopted the umbrella of Daesh.

“These terrorists are now located in the 40pc of Afghan territory which, according to a recent Pentagon report, is either out of Kabul’s control or is contested. It appears that Daesh’s ‘core’, under pressure in Iraq and Syria, may be relocating to these ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan,” she said.

Observing that securing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and preventing cross-border terrorism is essential for both the countries, the envoy said this could be achieved only through constant vigilance, effective management and real-time communication.

“Terrorists should not be allowed to provoke clashes between our border security forces.”

The peoples of Afghanistan and Pakistan are bound by mutual interdependence and other ties, she said, noting that approximately 3 million Afghans still reside in Pakistan.

To strengthen bilateral relations, Pakistan had last month proposed a comprehensive ‘Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity’.

“This action plan aims to promote constructive and meaningful bilateral engagement through establishment of working groups on political, economic, military, intelligence and refugee issues,” Lodhi said.

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