WASHINGTON - United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on Friday pledged to work for a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan.
The current situation in Afghanistan and the way ahead dominated proceedings of the meeting between delegations of the two countries led by Clinton and Khar held at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.
"We have both pledged to support a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan, which is vital for the security of the region," Clinton told reporters before the meeting. She also thanked Pakistan for reopening NATO supply lines into Afghanistan.
The two diplomats discussed the first meeting of the Safe Passage Working Group in Islamabad bringing together Afghan, Pakistani and US representatives to advance the peace process in Afghanistan.
"The Pakistani government's public call for insurgents to come forward and talk with the Afghan government was particularly important. We are ready to work together to build on these steps, and we will continue our discussions through bilateral consultations and the US- Afghanistan-Pakistan core group," Clinton said.
Khar said the strongest convergence of interest the two countries have today was perhaps not in any of these bilateral tracks but in Afghanistan which presented a common challenge to both of them.
"We are, of course, concerned over of the reports that we hear from Afghanistan. We are concerned of some of the infiltration which is coming from Afghanistan inside Pakistan. We are also concerned about the security situation," she said, voicing her concerns on recent developments in Afghanistan.
"And I think that the United States and Pakistan today have a unique opportunity to be able to work together to ensure that there's no security vacuum left in Afghanistan as we go through transition, that the Afghan people are able to decide for their own future and live as a sovereign, independent country which is a source of stability and peace in the region for the next 30 years," Khar said.
Earlier in the day, addressing a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Khar said that Pakistan had no intention to seek strategic depth in Afghanistan and neither had any intention to impose any kind of government on its neighbor.
"We seek no strategic depth in Afghanistan. Allow me to categorically say that. We seek relations with Afghanistan to be based on the principle of stable, peaceful, a sovereign and an independent Afghanistan," Khar said.
"What I consider today to be the primary goal in national interest of Pakistan is a peaceful and stable -- not necessarily even friendly-- Afghanistan. Because we know from history that until and unless there is peace and stability in Afghanistan, we will not be able to find our peace and stability and we will not be able to grow economically the way we wish," she said.
"The best possible scenario that we can think of for 2014 is that as elections take place and as transition takes place in Afghanistan; all Afghan groups are able to demonstrate their strength, their will through the election process, not through violence. And that is a future that we must be working toward. That is the immediate short- term future that we must be working toward," she said.
Khar said Pakistan feared instability in Afghanistan because it permeated through the 2,000-plus kilometer border that Pakistan has with Afghanistan directly into Pakistan's territory, as it has for the last three decades. "There are 53,000 people which cross the Pakistan-Afghan border every day. So you can imagine the permeation and the instantaneous effects of any instability in Afghanistan," she said. (Pajhwok)