5:13 pm - Saturday April 17, 0584

Pakistan to work with new Afghan govt for peace: PM

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while felicitating the people of Afghanistan on the successful presidential and provincial council polls said on Sunday that Pakistan would work in collaboration with the new leadership in Afghanistan to bring peace and tranquillity in the region.

The prime minister hoped that the participation in the democratic process by the Afghan people would play a significant role in bringing peace and stability to the region.The message of the premier on the occasion has symbolic significance since he took the lead in expressing good wishes to the people of the brotherly country and also referred to the incumbent president of that country who is bound to vacate the office in the third quarter of this year.

Diplomatic sources told The News that Pakistan has made it clear to all the stakeholders in the Afghan elections that Islamabad didn’t bet on any of the candidates as it has no favourites among the contestants. The non-interference from Pakistan has been acknowledged by almost everyone in the run to head the war-torn country.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his statement said, “Making decisions through ballot boxes by the Afghan people reflected their determination and keen interest for adopting a democratic culture.”

He congratulated President Hamid Karzai and the people of Afghanistan on successfully holding and completing the election process.“Afghanistan is a brotherly country of Pakistan,” he said, adding, “Pakistan would not only help and support Afghanistan in strengthening democracy but would also work in collaboration with the new leadership in Afghanistan for bringing peace and tranquillity in the region.”

The prime minister expressed the hope that a peaceful transfer of power would take place in Kabul like in Pakistan after the last general elections and wished that democracy will flourish in the neighbouring country. “This election will prove a historic moment for the Afghan people in their democratic journey,” the prime minister said.

He was of the view that these elections would be instrumental in creating unity and harmony among the people of the war-torn country. Interestingly, the statement issued by the spokesperson of the Foreign Office conspicuously omitted the Afghan president in the congratulatory message and said Pakistan congratulates the brotherly people of Afghanistan on the milestone of presidential and provincial council elections.

In her statement, the spokesperson said the people of Afghanistan braved the security threat and inclement weather and turned up in the millions to exercise their democratic right to choose their future leadership. “We wish the Afghan electoral institutions well as they take the next key steps in ensuring the successful completion of the electoral process. Like always, the people of Pakistan stand in strong solidarity with the Afghan nation at this historic moment, as it moves forward in its peaceful democratic transition,” the spokesperson said.

Pakistan facilitated the Afghan refugees living on its soil in the 2004 presidential elections to exercise their right to franchise and for the purpose, polling booths were set up in all the refugee camps. Pakistan offered the same facility this time but the authorities concerned in Afghanistan opted not to avail the offer. The Afghan election authorities also deprived the refugees to use their right to cast their vote in the 2009 presidential polls. Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has received the initial situation report regarding Saturday’s elections in Afghanistan submitted by Pakistan’s envoy Syed Ibrar Ahmad and the same has worked as a basis for the issuance of the message of felicitations, sources said. The United Nations has also provided assistance to the Afghan election authorities in conducting the elections.

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