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'Pakistan must be pushed for action'

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 11/3/2011 12:00:00 AM | İPEK YEZDANİ - ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr

NATO envoy Gass says the international community needs Pakistan to put as much pressure as possible on the insurgents to come to a peaceful resolution

Ambassador Simon Gass, NATO’s civilian representative in Afghanistan, said the international community needs Pakistan to put as much pressure as possible on insurgents to come to a peaceful resolution.

“The existence within Pakistan of safe havens for insurgents is well known to us all,” Gass told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview Wednesday. “We recognize Pakistan has its own problems in terms of insurgency. It has lost many soldiers and many civilians to the insurgency within its own borders. But that situation can only be improved if there is stability in Afghanistan. And therefore we need to persuade Pakistan to turn up the heat on insurgency within its borders, which will help both Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Having peace talks with the insurgency in Afghanistan is a desirable outcome by 2014, but they cannot gamble Afghanistan’s future on the willingness of insurgents to participate in peace talks, Gass told a group of journalists on the sidelines of a roundtable discussion organized by the Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Istanbul.

“We mainly have two possible strategies: There is an Afghan-led process of dialogue with the insurgents, which leads to a political process and ends with insurgents laying down their weapons. That’s the best solution. The other strategy is training Afghan security forces so they can take responsibility for security whether the insurgency is still up and running,” Gass said.

[HH] One of the 10 poorest countries

Gass said Afghanistan was preparing for the withdrawal of foreign forces in 2014, and he drew attention to the fact that Afghanistan will remain one of the 10 poorest countries on Earth after 2014.

“Particularly after 2014 there will be a substantial need for development in Afghanistan,” Gass said.

But Gass said he was confident Afghanistan would be able to build its own legacy and stand on its own feet with the support of international forces after 2014. “At the end of 2014 international forces would have handed over responsibility for security to Afghan security forces. And that would be a very important moment. However, that doesn’t mean there will be no violence in Afghanistan. But the Afghan security forces will be able to maintain security so that insurgency does not pose a threat to the authority of the government of Afghanistan,” Gass said.

Many Afghanis see Turkey as a regional model country that has been successful in many ways, including its economy, Gass said. “Therefore it is natural many young Afghans look to Ankara and Istanbul as examples they would like to follow.”

A Taliban office was not likely to open in Turkey, Gass said. “I don’t know whether there will be a Taliban office opened anywhere. But I don’t think it is likely to be in Istanbul.”

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