TASHKENT, (MANEND NEWS): Prime Minister Imran Khan says regional
peace and stability is of paramount importance for enhanced trade and
economic cooperation in the region.
He was addressing the International Conference on “South Asia-
Central Asia Regional Connectivity-Challenges and Opportunities in
Tashkent on Friday.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said the Afghan situation and unresolved
disputes are the key challenges to peace and stability in the region.
He said Afghanistan is the natural land bridge between Central Asia
and South Asia, and peace in Afghanistan is the most critical factor for
Imran Khan said Pakistan’s foremost priority is the stability in
Afghanistan as it directly affects us. He said Pakistan will continue to
support all initiatives for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. He
said we encourage all the neighbours and international stakeholders
for their positive roles for a political settlement in Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan hit back at Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s
claims about Pakistan’s “negative role” in the Afghan peace process,
adding that it was “unfair” to blame the country for the situation in
Afghanistan. The Afghan president was also present at the conference.
PM Imran’s remarks came shortly before the two leaders were
scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the conference.
“President Ghani let me just say that the country that will be most
affected by turmoil in Afghanistan is Pakistan. Pakistan suffered
70,000 casualties in the last 15 years. The last thing Pakistan wants is
more conflict,” the premier said as he stopped reading from his written
He also said that Taliban were no longer willing to compromise after
the United States gave a date for the withdrawal of troops from
“When there were 150,000 NATO troops […] that was the time to ask
the Taliban to come to the table. Why were the Taliban going to
compromise once the exit date was given […] why would they listen to
us when they are sensing victory” the prime minister questioned.
The premier said that Pakistan’s economy was finally recovering after
going through a difficult phase. “I repeat, the last thing we want is
turbulence in Afghanistan.”
PM Imran Khan stated that no country has tried harder than Pakistan
to bring the Taliban to the table for dialogue. “We have made every
effort, short of taking military action against the Taliban in Pakistan, to
get them on the dialogue table and to have a peaceful settlement [in
Afghanistan]. “To blame Pakistan for what is going on in Afghanistan is
He said that he would not have visited Kabul in November last year if
Pakistan was not interested in peace. “The whole idea was to look
upon Pakistan as a partner in peace. I feel disappointed that we have
been blamed for what is going on in Afghanistan”.
He said that the current situation in Afghanistan was a result of over
two decades of conflict and the US seeking a military solution.
He said that he had a conversation with Uzbekistan President Shavkat
Mirziyoyev about how all the neighbours in the region can help the
Afghan peace process. “It is in all of our interests.”
He said that there were already three million refugees in Afghanistan.
“We are petrified that there will be another influx of refugees and we
do not have the capacity or the economic strength to bear it. So I can
assure you again, if any country is trying its best, it is Pakistan.”
He said Pakistan has suffered 70 thousand casualties and a huge
economic loss due to the unrest in Afghanistan. He said three million
Afghan refugees have been living in Pakistan for decades. He said we
do not have capacity and economic strength to get more inflow of
Referring to the unresolved disputes in the region, Imran Khan said
Kashmir is the core issue between Pakistan and India.
He said the huge potential of cooperation remains untapped because
of unresolved disputes in the region.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan welcomes cooperation between
Gwadar Port and other ports of the region. He said CPEC is the flagship
project of Belt and Road Initiative, and it will promote regional