|Updated: 20-nov-06||NATO IMS Speech|
17 Nov. 2006
GENERAL RAYMOND HENAULT (Chairman, NATO Military Committee): Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. And let me first of all extend a sincere welcome to General Ehsan Ul Haq to the NATO Military Committee. Very happy to have you here this afternoon, and very pleased that you've agreed to meet with us to provide us with your views on Pakistan and the many issues surrounding that region, and also to entertain questions and a conversation, a dialogue with the Military Committee and permanent session members.
This is certainly an historic visit. The first time that the chairman has actually been here in NATO Headquarters and also in SHAPE this morning, as I understand it.
So... the first time and we're very, very pleased to be part of that.
This visit is certainly a tangible demonstration, tangible evidence of the genuine efforts by both NATO and also by Pakistan to improve, enhance our military-to-military cooperation, and that in a number of areas of mutual interest for all the reasons that we will discuss in just a short while.
General, your visit illustrates how significant that that relationship has become. Pakistan is important to the security of NATO, but also NATO is important to the security of Pakistan and the General and I had a while, or a short moment, to discuss that just before coming down to this meeting.
And with that, we are establishing a pattern of regular contact, and this visit is certainly important, but also an important step in evolving this bilateral relationship. And so we appreciate that very sincerely.
Now the Military Committee is very pleased with the military-to-military relations that have continued to mature, quite frankly, since our support, at the request of your government, to assist the Pakistani people in the aftermath of the earthquake last year. And the General made some very complimentary comments, by the way, about the support that NATO provided, and also the perception, and obviously the respect with which the Pakistani people received that support.
Our contribution to the Pakistani army-led effort during the aftermath of the earthquake was certainly an excellent example of practical cooperation and that with both the political and military levels.
We're also pleased to have opened several courses within NATO, in our education facilities, at the college and also in the school, to Pakistani officers at the request and hopefully to the benefit, obviously, of our Pakistani friends. And those include training in peace support operations, civil military cooperation, defence against terrorism, and others.
Now you know, that the ISAF operation in Afghanistan is our number one priority. We discussed that in detail and in depth over the last couple of days in our Chiefs of Staff meeting here. We have 37 NATO and partner nations, with more than 32,000 personnel committed to helping create the security conditions required by Afghans to provide for their future, and obviously to the overall development of their country.
And Pakistan and the members of NATO share, therefore, a very common interest in ensuring that Afghanistan is safe, secure and stable and never again makes the list of failed and failing states, and more importantly, doesn't allow for terrorism to again strike from that region.
We applaud Pakistan's constructive involvement, by the way, in the Tripartite Commission, a trilateral forum of Pakistan, Afghanistan and ISAF, where again, as this Committee is very familiar with, the security matters of mutual concern are discussed and information exchanged in a very constructive and productive way.
And tangible results from that Commission are very evident, including a number of things relating to security, including counter improvised explosive device methods, and we look forward to, of course, enhancing other elements of that cooperation in theatre.
Now, again, the General and I spoke a little bit about this before we came down here this afternoon, but I think all of us can appreciate the difficult, challenging and sometimes very dangerous work that you have in monitoring and controlling that border, which is some 2,500 kilometres long, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in identifying and removing the opposing militant forces that stand in the way of the peace and prosperity that we're all trying to achieve.
A greater and collective effort to reduce and eliminate security threats there is important and the faster all parties will reap the benefits if we can achieve better security overall, and particularly additional benefits for both the Afghan and the Pakistani people, all of which who look for better security and stability.
NATO, of course, depends to accomplish its mission in the long term on the full support and cooperation of Pakistan, that, in particular, regarding all of the cross-border issues that we share.
Now, General Ul Haq, you are a highly respected military leader, and decorated by, not only your nation, but also by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and a recipient of the Legion d'honneur de la France. You've got some 37 years of military service, marked by extensive experiences in command and in active operations throughout your career, and we certainly respect that. And we compliment you for that.
I know you've also been a driving force in these confidence-building measures that we've talked about for just a few moments, and I certainly want to thank you personally, in front of the Military Committee here today, for the leadership that you've shown in NATO-Pakistan relations in the region. Merci beaucoup. Thank you very much for that.
Now, I, and certainly all members of this Committee here, look very much forward to continuing to build on the agreements and the liaison mechanisms that have fuelled our mutual cooperation and our joint efforts to bring long-term peace and stability to Afghanistan. And we certainly look forward to the many ways in which we can all work together to support this relationship, but also to establish a much more comprehensive military-to-military dialogue, and also cooperation.
So, today is the first opportunity we have to do that here in Brussels and we know we'll be able to do it, and intend to do it, in the future as well, both in your region, as well as here in Belgium.
With that, General, again, welcome, and let me please offer you the floor for some opening comments and then we'll get into some further discussion. Again, thank you very much for being here.
UL HAQ: Thank you very much.
General Henault, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honour to be at the NATO Headquarters, and as the General mentioned, it is historic in the sense that it's the first time that any Chairman of Joint Chiefs from Pakistan is visiting the NATO Headquarters. I'm grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you on issues of mutual interest.
Pakistan and the international community at large, and NATO specifically, have a common commitment for the promotion of peace and security around the globe in general, and in our region there is your presence in Afghanistan in particular.
Of course, I have a long script. What I'm going to do is that I'm going to make a very short remark of about 15 minutes or so, so that we have more times of question/answer and more interactive discussion.
I shall present before you the role that Pakistan is playing to overcome the challenges in an increasingly troubled world. Being a strategically located pivotal state of 160 million people, Pakistan is a responsible member of the international community and deeply committed to playing its destined role for peace, stability and development of the world; to positively contribute towards promotion of a just international order.
Attainment of such a global environment is intrinsically linked to our founding fathers' vision of Pakistan as a country at peace within and peace without.
In my talk today I shall focus on the present and the future, when global circumstances have obliged Pakistan to play a critical role for world security and development. Of course, in this I'll talk about the threat of terrorism, the dangers of polarization between the Western and Islamic societies, the fear of rising extremism, and all prejudices, particularly on the basis of ideology, concerns or nuclear and WMD proliferation, and of course, Afghanistan.