Exclusive interview with H.E. Mohammad Sadiq, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Afghanistan
( 19 November 2009 )
By M. Zaki Shahamat
Q.1. Within the last years there emerged some high-level political tensions between Kabul and Islamabad on the issue of cross-border terrorism and militancy, how do you see the Pak-Afghan relationship today?
Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbours. Differences between neighbours are always possible which sometimes deteriorate to tension. Ideally, it should not happen but we live in an imperfect world. Unfortunately, there are elements who do not want to see good relationship between us and they expand fairly large resources on propaganda against Pakistan . However, in the end all of them will fail as people of the two countries will decide what kind of relations they want with each other. I would just give you a glimpse of our people to people contact: fifty-two thousand people cross the border between our two countries every day. Nobody could beat this concrete relationship with ill-conceived propaganda.
Since restoration of democracy in Pakistan, our political relationship with Afghanistan has also turned a new page. We have joined hands to work together for a peaceful and economically developed Afghanistan . Progress and development in Afghanistan and ethnic harmony in this country is in our interest. Similarly, nobody will be affected from instability in Afghanistan more than Pakistan. Therefore, we have to work together and we have every intention of doing so.
Q.2. Pakistan has contributed to Afghanistan's reconstruction process; please put a comprehensive light on Pakistan 's projects under implementation here and its role in Afghanistan 's reconstruction process.
Pakistan has quietly extended support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan since 2001. For example, over two thirds of senior officials in the Afghan central government today who could speak English or work with computers are trained in Pakistan.
Second, six thousand Afghan students currently attend colleges and universities in Pakistan. This does not include over 2000,000 Afghan refugee children who attend primary and secondary schools funded by Pakistan.
Third, we have just started one thousand fully funded scholarships programme to Pakistani universities. Under this programme, the students will start leaving our professional colleges and universities next month.
Fourth, the first foreign bank to operate in Kabul after 9/11 was National Bank of Pakistan , which was followed by two other private Pakistani banks. The emerging banking sector of Afghanistan heavily depended upon Pakistan 's human resource in its initial phase. Similarly, the telecommunication industry of Afghanistan drew Pakistani manpower, or Afghan human resource trained in Pakistan, in its nascent stage.
Fifth, the first foreign airline to start operations to Kabul after 9/11 was our national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). PIA pioneered the opening of Afghanistan to international air traffic after 9/11.
Sixth, some 90% of Afghans who seek medical treatment abroad cross the border with Pakistan. The overwhelming majority of these patients are poor who get free medical treatment in our government or philanthropic healthcare facilities.
Seventh, Pakistan is also undertaking several reconstruction projects in Afghanistan in education, health and infrastructure development areas. Following are some of the major Pakistani projects in Afghanistan :
- Rehman Baba School has been completed in Kabul, where 1200 students are receiving education. A hostel, to accommodate 1000 students, is being built for this school.
- Torkham-Jalalabad Road was completed and on request of Afghan Government we are now converting it into a dual carriage way. This is the best road constructed in Afghanistan by any donor.
- The construction of a state of art Allama Iqbal Faculty of Humanities at Kabul University is completed. We are now furnishing it.
- A 400 bed Jinnah Hospital Complex is under construction in Kabul. This sprawling project will have 12 buildings which would include a nuclear medicine facility.
- Nishter Kidney Hospital is near completion in Jalalabad. 15 urologists for this hospital were trained in Pakistan in a separate capacity building project.
- A 200 bed Naib Aminullah Khan Logari Hospital is being built in Logar.
- Sir Syed Science Faculty Block is being constructed in Nangarhar University, Jalalabad.
- Liaqat Ali Khan Engineering Faculty Block in Balkh University , Mazar -e-Sharif is under construction.
- Another half a dozen large projects, including two Eye Hospitals, Limb Centre at Badakhshan, two Nuclear Medical Centres in Kabul and Jalalabad are in the pipeline.
Q.3. Pakistan Army's offensive against Taliban miscreants in Waziristan is advancing, has it been a successful operation so far?
We have made good and speedy progress there. The whole terrorist infrastructure run by the foreigners and supported from abroad has been dismantled. We are not declaring victory against terrorism yet but we are on the right path and will be there in due course of time. Our nation is united in this struggle and a few thousand terrorists can't defeat 170 million Pakistanis.
Q.4. on the issue of Taliban, do you think there are two Taliban factions, Pakistani and Afghan?
I always find this question very interesting. It is full of suspicion and apprehension. And I always respond to it with a question: are they doing anything different? If they are acting exactly the same, how could they be different. As they say if it walks like a duck, quakes like a duck and looks like a duck, it is a duck.
Q.5. Barack Obama's administration has been pressurizing the government of Pakistan saying “Pakistan must do more”, how do you understand this message?
The mantra of “do more” is meaningless in the circumstances. We are already doing the best we could do and we do it for ourselves not for the Americans or anybody else.
Q.6. How do you hail Afghanistan's recent presidential elections, according to your view, was that a democratic achievement?
The world should congratulate the people of Afghanistan for coming out and voting in conditions which were less than ideal. Each man and woman who showed up at a polling station on 20 th August had made a statement. Democracy in Afghanistan is on the march and it is good omen for the region and the world.
Q.7. There are still concerns that some military agencies are involved in aiding and supporting Taliban, what do you think on this phenomenon?
Well one hears a lot of things from helicopters picking and dropping Taliban to weapon and IEDs being supplied to insurgent to international mafia openly selling weapon in exchange for drugs but it is difficult to comment without any substantive information on these issues.
Q.8. We have witnessed that some countries have not observed balance in allocating funds for all Afghanistan's provinces, ignoring particular parts where a particular tribe is residing, is it true in describing Pakistan's share in Afghanistan's reconstruction process?
I can speak for Pakistan. We do not prefer on ethnic group or province over other ethnic groups or provinces. We want to be friends with everybody in Afghanistan and would like to see everybody benefit from our assistance. For example, we are taking special care that this policy is implemented in grant of scholarships, training course and development projects.
Q.9. The Daily Outlook Afghanistan has always advocated to promote brotherhood and brotherly relations between the tow countries by conveying constructive information to the peoples, at last I offer you a chance to convey your message to the people of Afghanistan.
God in His infinite wisdom has placed Pakistan and Afghanistan next to each others like twin brothers. Nobody could separate us in pursuit of their nefarious designs. I believe anybody who creates misunderstandings between our two countries is our common enemy because if they succeed both of us will fail. People and governments of our two countries should work together to march on the path of peace, stability and progress.
Bio Data of Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan
Ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan (since Dec 2008)
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