Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari
on Sunday said any new initiative on Afghanistan should ensure
that country’s territorial integrity and that Afghan soil is
not used against any of its neighbours.
Any new move in Afghanistan by the world community
should also ensure Afghan ownership of the process,
territorial integrity of the country, national reconciliation
and peace and stability, Zardari said during a meeting with
visiting British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in Karachi.
An important issue was the management of the border
between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in which the world community
could be of great help, Zardari said.
He called for an Afghan peace and integration
programme that offers incentives to over two million Afghan
refugees in Pakistan to return to their country.
Reports have suggested that the Pakistan government
has expressed its reservations to Miliband over the inclusion
of India in a regional council on Afghanistan proposed by
Britain, saying such a move might compromise its interests.
The matter is expected to be taken up at the London
Conference on Afghanistan to be held on January 28.
The London Conference on Afghanistan, bilateral and
regional issues, the fight against militancy and the second
Pakistan-EU Summit figured in the talks between Miliband and
Zardari, Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
Zardari underlined the need for setting up
Reconstruction Opportunity Zones in Pakistan’s tribal belt to
facilitate exports to European Union countries.
This will help address poverty and unemployment in the
tribal areas and help stabilise the frontier, he added.
Britain and Pakistan also need to work closely to
strengthen their partnership in several areas, particularly
trade and investment and educational development, to eliminate
militancy in Pakistan and promote peace and security in the
region, Zardari said.
On bilateral issues, Zardari urged Miliband to reduce
the time for processing Pakistani visa applications,
particularly those of students and businessmen, and to address
the perception of discrimination in issuance of British visas.
He also said Britain could play a key role in
persuading the world community to provide a "peace dividend"
to the people of Pakistan, who have made great sacrifices in
the war on terror.
This could be done through international support for
their rehabilitation and resettlement.