PM strongly condemning increase in violence and attacks by Afghan Taliban under their Operation Azm offensive

May 12, 2015

KABUL, May 12 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Tuesday, strongly condemning increase in violence and attacks by Afghan Taliban under their Operation Azm offensive, said that  Pakistan saw it as an act of terrorism.

      "All sanctuaries, when found, will be eliminated by direct action, and will be monitored by the existing mechanism," he  told the media after meeting Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf  Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
      Criticising the offensive by the Afghan Taliban, the Prime Minister said, "Continuation of such offensive and attacks will be construed as terrorist acts."

      The Afghan Taliban announced the new "spring operations" called "Operation Azm" in April to target the "foreign occupiers" and the Afghan government.

      "Any effort by any militant or group to destabilize Afghanistan will be dealt with severly and such elements will be
outlawed and hunted down," he vowed and said in case of any terrorist activity, both the countries would take counter 
action in conjunction.

      The Prime Minister's delegation comprised Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi, DG Inter Services Intelligence Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and senior  officials.

      Nawaz Sharif said wide-ranging consultation on issues relating to the common challenges and the significant opportunities ahead was held.

      "We agreed that peace and stability in the region will remain elusive until the menace of terrorism afflicting the region is comprehensively addressed."

      The Prime Minister expressed confidence that Pakistan and Afghanistan would succeed in rooting out the menace through their firm determination and by adopting a comprehensive and coordinated strategy.  

      He said that Pakistan had the highest stake in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. 
      "We stand in strong solidarity with Afghanistan. I assure you that the enemies of Afghanistan cannot be friends of Pakistan.

      "We both recognized that an enduring peace in Afghanistan will be a distant dream, without an inclusive intra-Afghan reconciliation."

      The Prime Minister reaffirmed Pakistan's full support for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process and assured President Ashraf Ghani of making all possible efforts in this regard.

      The Prime Minister, who was on a day long visit to Afghanistan, reiterated offer for capacity building of the 
Afghan police, including training.

      Giving details of the talks with the Afghan leadership, he said both the sides agreed to continue their bilateral relations  by following the principles of non-interference and not to allow  their territories to be used against each other.

      He said the most important principle was that Afghanistan's enemies would be treated as Pakistan's enemies and those of Pakistan as Afghanistan's.

      Nawaz Sharif said both the sides discussed ways to realize the full potential of their "well endowed reservoir of human and material resources". 

Expanding trade, increasing investments, improving  infrastructure, building road and rail links, and enhancing 
energy collaboration came under discussion, he added.

      The Prime Minister said he also stressed the need for fast-track progress on trans-regional energy projects to 
advance the goal of greater regional integration.

      "I underlined Pakistan's resolve to further deepen our  defence and security partnership with Afghanistan through 
enhanced cooperation along the border and human resource development."

      He also assured the Afghan President of Pakistan's continued engagement with regional and international processes in support of his country. 

      The Prime Minister said as co-chair of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process during 2015, Pakistan would steer the process in line with the Afghan priorities and aspirations.

 The Prime Minister said Afghanistan had a special place in the hearts of Pakistanis. "There are no other two countries that have so much in common. We are friends. We are brothers. We have  stood shoulder to shoulder through every trial and tribulation."

      He said the fraternal ties between the two brotherly countries transcended the boundaries of time and space, reinforced by common faith and cultural affinities.

      The Prime Minister said he was delighted to visit Kabul and again meet his friends and brothers. He was gratified at the  warm-hearted reception and generous hospitality that was  characteristic of the Afghan people.

      "It is always a pleasure to be in Afghanistan and among my Afghan brethren. Coming to Afghanistan is like coming to my second home. I have brought with me the most cordial greetings of the people of Pakistan for their Afghan brethren."

      The Prime Minister also reaffirmed his commitment to continue working with President Ashraf Ghani for prosperity and development of the two peoples and in advancing the shared objectives of peace and stability in the region.

      He concluded by raising the slogan of "Pak-Afghan Dosti  Painda baad."

      Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, while stressing further closer cooperation between the two brotherly countries, said both had suffered due to terrorism, a common threat.

      The specter of terrorism had targeted the children in Peshawar and on Afghan soil and both the countries had to confront it jointly, he added.

      President Ghani termed the enemies of Pakistan those of Afghanistan.