Pakistan assures support to Afghanistan peace process as NATO oil supplies resumes

Pakistan has assured full support to peace process in confict-hit Afghanistan while oil supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan resumed through Pakistan after four months.

Islamabad, Sept 4/Nationalturk – Pakistan government has assured full support to peace process in Afghanistan while oil supplies to NATO troops fighting Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan resumed through Pakistan after four months on Wednesday.

“Peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s vital national interest. We remain committed to supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan in an inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process,” said Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs while addressing a seminar organized by East West Institute titled, “Afghanistan Reconnected: Linking energy suppliers to consumers in Asia”.

He said 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).

‘Afghanistan-Pakistan region has immense natural resources’

“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,” Aziz said adding Pakistan is keen to continue working with Afghanistan in pursuit of connectivity and energy projects linking Pakistan with Central Asia.

He said Afghanistan has invited Pakistan for a joint investment in Kunar Hydro Power project whose design and feasibility have been completed.  “The project will produce 1500 MW electricity to be shared by the two countries”.

He said as a country struggling to emerge out of decades of instability, Afghanistan is expected to face serious challenges, which can be overcome through a sustained effort involving financial and technical support, infrastructure and human resources.

“The support of the international community for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development is crucial for reinforcing the efforts for peace and reconciliation, Aziz said adding Pakistan believes Tokyo Conference is a step in the right direction in meeting Afghanistan’s development needs in the coming years.

Aziz said despite its limited resources, Pakistan has been extending support to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development through contributions primarily to education, health and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, worth US$ 330 million.

‘Location makes Afghanistan a connector’

Stating that Afghanistan is ideally located to connect energy suppliers and users in its neihbourhood and beyond, he said,   “Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India gas pipeline (TAPI) and Central Asia South Asia (CASA-1000) are two such examples of projects which make Afghanistan a ‘connector’.”

He said these projects hold substantial economic advantages for Afghanistan, in addition to speeding up its own reconstruction and development efforts.

Aziz said successful security transition by the end of December 2014, and assumption of full responsibility for peace and stability by the Afghan National Security Force and Afghan National Army would help the country prepare a helpful environment for the pursuit and development of energy and connectivity projects. “The next year’s political transition, through successful conclusion of the Presidential and Provincial Council elections would also be an important factor.”

Afghanistan has been subject to militants and Taliban attacks for over a decade. These have increased as NATO countries are in the process of withdrawing their 130,000 troops ahead of the 2014 deadline.

Oil supply to NATO from Pakistan resumed after 4 months

In a related development Pakistani contractors today resumed overland oil supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani contractors had stopped driving oil supplies from Karachi on the Arabian Sea to the Torkham crossing on Afghan border in June due to frequent attacks on their vehicles.

“We have resumed the oil supplies from today after hiring he services of a private security firm,” a contractor said.

Sources said Pakistani government has also asked paramilitary Frontier Corps to escort to oil tankers safely to Afghanistan.

Pakistan is a key transit route for NATO mission in conflict-hit Afghanistan.

From November 2011 to July 2012, Pakistan shut its Afghan border to all overland NATO traffic after US air raids killed 24 Pakistani troops. However, after consultations at highest level, Pakistan government lifted the embargo and allowed passage of NATO trucks to Afghanistan from its territory.

Pakistan and US have signed a deal allowing NATO convoys to travel into Afghanistan till the end of 2015.

The militants have frequently attacked NATO containers in Pakistan.

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Faiz Ahmad / NationalTurk Pakistan News


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