ISLAMABAD: Pakistan had done a lot to fight terrorism and now it is for the world to do more. The international community should play its role in addressing the causes leading to terrorism and extremism, said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday.

Addressing the concluding session of the three-day Islamabad International Counter-Terrorism Forum, Mr Abbasi said the Pakistani nation was united and committed against terrorism and extremism.

He said no country in the world had committed over 200,000 troops to eradicate the threat and which had conducted numerous civil and military operations across the country to wipe out all terrorist sanctuaries.

The prime minister also invited the world attention towards the blatant human rights violations in Indian held Kashmir. He said the Jammu and Kashmir dispute could only be resolved through implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

The prime minister says sanctuaries in Afghanistan lead to instability in Pakistan

He mentioned the state brutality and gross human rights violations by the Indian occupation forces and pointed to the recent killing of 17 youth in cold blood and said such acts breed extremism and terrorism. He observed that lasting peace would remain elusive till such simmering issues were resolved.

The prime minister said Pakistan had come a long way in its fight against extremism and terrorism and recalled that after the invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR in 1979 the country faced an influx of weapons and drugs, besides bearing the fallout of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He said the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar proved to be a turning point for Pakistan, when it made a firm resolve to rid the country of all sorts of extremism and terrorism.

Pakistan, he said is today a much safer country and mentioned the port city Karachi which had dropped down from being on the list of the top ten most dangerous cities in the world. “We countered and defeated terrorists and we are committed to continue to do so,” he added.

Noting that terrorism has now become a global challenge, the prime minister took pride in the fact that Pakistan has been victorious in defeating a monster, where the rest of the world has failed.

The prime minister said the country was progressing economically and said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor would open up the country to Europe and Central Asian Republics.

He said his government stood firm in putting the economy back on track as he believed that it was the biggest check on terrorism.

Just a day before embarking on a visit to Afghanistan for a state-to-state dialogue, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said sanctuaries in Afghanistan are a source of instability in Pakistan.

“We do not accept the narrative that there are any sanctuaries in Pakistan that are [bringing] any instability to Afghanistan. That is not the truth. In fact, today the reverse is true. The people instigating terrorism in Pakistan are based in Afghanistan,” Mr Abbasi said.

He said this was the reality everyone needed to accept. He said Pakistan is fencing its border with Afghanistan in a bid to protect itself. He dismissed the narrative that Pakistan does not support peace in Afghanistan and said “no other country is more interested in peace in Afghanistan than Pakistan”. He said Pakistan is the first country which faces the impact of instability in the neighbouring Afghanistan.

“War is no solution to Afghanistan,” he said and reiterated Pakistan’s support for dialogue to achieve peace and said his government was ready to facilitate it.

On the invitation of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will undertake a day-long visit to Kabul on Friday. According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Thursday, the prime minister’s visit is taking place in the backdrop of Pakistan’s support to President Ghani’s offer of peace talks with the Taliban for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and strengthening bilateral engagement.

The prime minister will have in-depth consultations with the Afghan president and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on matters of mutual interest, including strengthening bilateral political, economic, security and counter-terrorism cooperation, return of Afghan refugees, combating drug production and narco-trade, Afghan peace process and regional political and security situation. The prime minister will also meet senior Afghan political leaders.

The statement said Pakistan will continue to support Afghanistan’s developments efforts through capacity building in infrastructure, educational and health sectors. Pakistan also wants to deepen people to people contact including assistance to Afghans in travel to Pakistan for education and medical treatment.

To promote regional economic integration, the two countries are participating in key trans-regional initiatives namely Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and Central Asia – South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000).

During the concluding session, one minute silence was observed to honour all those who lost lives in the war against terrorism.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2018