Pakistan, Afghanistan pledge to work for regional peace

May 13th, 2009 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, May 13 (IANS) Pakistan and Afghanistan Wednesday pledged to create an environment of security and stability in the region and to work for its development and prosperity.
“We will transform our region into one where terrorism and extremism are but a distant memory,” Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said addressing the inaugural session of the third Regional Economic Cooperation (REC) conference on Afghanistan.

“(This will enable) future generations enjoy the fruits of freedom, development and prosperity in an environment of security, stability and abundant opportunity,” Gilani added.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai was guest of honour at the two-day conference, which is being attended by delegates from 40 countries, including business leaders and international organisations.

Officials said the meeting is likely to approve funding for a range of sectors like transportation, energy, trade, and infrastructure.

The conference follows the US-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral summit in Washington earlier this month that was meant to take forward US President Barack Obama’s new Af-Pak strategy for the region.

Security fears prompted by the Pakistani military’s action against the Taliban in the country’s troubled northwest forced a change in the venue of the conference from a convention centre to the prime minister’s office.

According to Gilani, Afghanistan’s development had to be accorded priority and its government, neighbours and international organizations needed to act in concert to advance the shared goals.

The prime minister also said Pakistan was prepared to join in efforts with Afghanistan to promote regional connectivity, strengthening energy cooperation, expanding opportunities for Afghan citizens and enhance the capacity of Afghan national institutions.

Speaking on the occasion, Karzai said extremism threatened livelihoods.

“The most menacing challenge to the region’s prosperity today is extremism and terrorism which threatens our lives and livelihoods,” he said.

Suicide attacks and other forms of violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India were grim reminders of the militants’ growing reach, Karzai said, charging them with “hindering our progress towards peace and prosperity”.

Vehicles transporting Afghan merchandise and NATO supplies to landlocked Afghanistan through Pakistan are frequently attacked.

Taliban fighters Wednesday attacked a NATO supply terminal outside Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NFWP), destroying eight vehicles.

“Such terrorist atrocities have a serious effect on trade and commerce,” Karzai maintained.

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