Stable and secure Afghanistan in Pak's own interest: Zardari
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari today highlighted his country's efforts in deepening ties with Afghanistan's political leaders but said the illegal trade of heroin in the neighbouring country was helping fund terrorist activities in the region and across the world.
Zardari emphasised that to have a stable and secure Afghanistan was in Pakistan's own interest.
"We believe that a sovereign, stable and secure Afghanistan is good for the Afghan people. And what is good for the Afghan people is good for Pakistan," he said in his address to the 67th session of the UN General Assembly.
He highlighted Pakistan's growing ties with neighbours, saying "the growing regional pivot in Pakistan's foreign policy is a reflection of our democratic policy-making. In engaging with our region, we are changing the future."
He said Pakistan's strategic partnership with China is growing from strength to strength and in Afghanistan, his country has begun to engage and deepen its friendship with the entire range of the Afghan political spectrum.
"A brighter Afghan future will only be possible when the search for peace is Afghan-owned, Afghan-driven and Afghan-led. We respect and support the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan for reconciliation and peace. Pakistan will support in every way possible, any process that reflects Afghan national consensus," he said.
Zardari, however, was critical of the spread and illegal trade of heroin in Afghanistan, which he said is emerging as a threat and pitfall in the "ambitious transformative experience" between the two countries.
"Despite the presence of international forces in Afghanistan, the size of the heroin trade has increased by 3000 per cent in the last decade," he said.
Zardari blamed the heroin industry for eroding the social fabric of Pakistan's societies. "Terrorist activities within our region and indeed all over the world are funded and fueled by the unrestricted production and sale of illegal drugs."
Zardari began his speech by expressing the strongest condemnation over the anti-Islam movie that has sparked violent protests across the world including in Pakistan.
He said he condemns the acts of incitement of hate against the faith of billions of Muslims across the world.
Pakistan moved the United Nations to immediately address "in earnest this alarming concern and the widening rift to enable the comity of nations to be one again."
He said the international community must not become silent observers and should criminalize acts that destroy the peace of the world and endanger world security by misusing freedom of expression.
He also touched upon the issue of Security Council reform saying that the UN system must become more democratic and accountable and reform should be based on consensus and democratic principles.
He also reiterated Pakistan's support to an independent Palestinian State and said Pakistan favors the admission of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations. He expressed gratitude to the European Union for recognising the value of trade to Pakistan.