It is delusional to think that simply executing a strategy of force and coercion in Afghanistan will work when the past 17 years show otherwise, said Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, during Friday's UN Security Council debate on Afghanistan.
“It is not enough to pay lip service to a negotiated settlement and then execute a strategy of force and coercion under the delusion that it will work,” Lodhi said while also calling the Afghan Taliban to abandon the path of violence and join talks.
Earlier this week, US Ambassador Nikki Haley had stressed that the Kabul government wants world powers to step up pressure on Pakistan. The comments were made after a UN Security Council visit to Afghanistan.
Haley had joined the 14 other council envoys for talks with top Afghan leaders in Kabul last weekend as the government considers holding peace talks with the Taliban to end decades of insurgency.
“They did ask us for consensus to put further pressure on Pakistan to come to the table and change their behaviour,” Haley had said after her visit.
Lodhi said that Afghanistan and its partners — including the United States — should focus on challenges inside Afghanistan rather than shift the onus for ending the conflict onto others.
She told the 15-member council that those who imagine terrorist sanctuaries exist outside Afghanistan "really need a reality check".
“With over 40 per cent of Afghan territory out of government control – either contested or ungoverned – the insurgency does not need outside support especially with illicit drug trafficking providing the insurgent groups with a steady financial income estimated at millions of dollars a year,” Lodhi said.
She added: “With its safe havens inside the country and income from the narcotics trade, the insurgency doesn't need any outside assistance or ‘support centers’ to sustain itself.”
“The need,” Lodhi stressed, “is to urgently pursue a credible and sustained peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan aimed at finding a negotiated peace."
"Pakistan has as much to gain from peace in Afghanistan as Afghanistan itself," Lodhi pointed out. “My country has been the major victim of terrorism and violence emanating from Afghanistan’s wars and strife.”
She also reminded the council that Pakistan continues to host the largest protracted presence of refugees anywhere in the world.
Afghanistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai said: “We are pleased to note that the imperative of addressing the problem of regional terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens is now recognized more than ever before.”
He said there is an opportunity to shift regional threats from terrorism, instability and other criminal activities to peace, security and development and that is Afghanistan's goal.
The Pakistani envoy also reacted sharply to the Indian permanent representative’s allegation in his statement to the Council where he said that “mindsets in Pakistan contributed to instability in Afghanistan”.
Responding to the allegations, Lodhi said, “Those who talk of changing mindsets need to look within, at their own record of subversion against my country as our capture of an Indian spy [Kulbhushan Jadhav] has proven beyond doubt”.