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‘Marshall-like’ plan needed for Afghanistan, Pakistani official tells UN debate

‘Marshall-like’ plan needed for Afghanistan, Pakistani official tells UN debate

Foreign Secretary Khan of Pakistan
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary today called for the adoption of an ambitious international reconstruction plan for Afghanistan during his address to the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

“No country stands to gain as much as Pakistan from peace and stability in Afghanistan,” said Riaz Mohammad Khan, voicing support for “every initiative” that could help with rebuilding and national reconciliation in the war-ravaged country.

“The international community also has an important responsibility to help Afghanistan with a Marshall-like programme for reconstruction,” he said.

Reviewing three decades of conflict in Afghanistan, he said recent events have “impacted on our society, giving rise to terrorism and extremism.”

Pakistan, he said, is fighting Al-Qaida and other terrorist elements “with resolve and determination.”

While emphasizing the country’s efforts to counter extremism, he spoke out against those who would malign religions and reinforce divisions between Islam and the West. “Tolerating Islamophobia in the guise of freedom of expression is dangerous,” he warned.

“More than ever before, in this globalized world, we need understanding, harmony and building of bridges among all cultures and peoples.”

The Foreign Minister of Canada, Maxime Bernier, also urged a united international effort to help rebuild Afghanistan. “International organizations, including the UN, NATO and the World Bank, must work toward this common goal.”

He reviewed Canada’s contribution to Afghanistan, including its participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition in the country.

“The countries assisting Afghanistan are united in the conviction that there can be no reconstruction without security,” he said. “Democracy and political stability cannot flourish in a climate of terror.”

He cautioned that attention to development is also critical. “Long-term security requires a sustainable investment in the country’s development – the two go hand in hand.

Pointing to progress achieved so far with international support, he said, “Afghan police officers are being trained, Afghan refugees are returning home and Afghan children are learning to read and write.”

He called for efforts to carry out the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year development blueprint launched in January 2006 by the country and its international partners. “Strong UN stewardship of the Compact, alongside the Afghan Government, is critical to realizing this vision,” he said.

The Foreign Minister also urged leaders attending the Assembly session to support implementation of Security Council resolution 1776, which extended ISAF and called on Member States to contribute personnel, equipment and funding to its operations.