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> End of 2014 is not the end of NATO commitments and support in Afghanistan and the Region: NATO Officials
Roundtable Discussion
February 12, 2014


February 12; NATO officials have said that end of 2014 is not the end of NATO commitments and support in Afghanistan and the region.


Mr. Gilles Vander Ghinst, Head of the Partners across the Globe Section at the Political Affairs and Security Policy Division, NATO and Mr. Nick Williams, Head of Section 2 (Afghan operation) of NATO HQ Operations Division, NATO, were speaking at the PILDAT Roundtable on NATO Pakistan Partnership after 2014. The roundtable was chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence, (Islamabad-PML) while H.E. Mr. Petros Mavroidis, Ambassador of Greece to Pakistan and Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT also spoke at the Roundtable.


H.E. Mr. Petros Mavroidis, Ambassador of Greece to Pakistan, was of the view that NATO is focusing on direct diplomacy between NATO and Pakistani citizens especially with the Parliamentarians to overcome the misunderstandings. He said that NATO wants to promote Pakistan-NATO relations in every aspect. Discussing Indian presence in Afghanistan, he said that India, like many other international players, is present in Afghanistan. He said that NATO does not have a mandate to support Pakistan in development but the EU is spending more than 2 billion dollars in Pakistan on development and most of the EU countries are part of the NATO. He also said that it is not possible for NATO to seal the Pakistan Afghanistan borders.


Mr. Gilles Vander Ghinst said that the NATO supports democracy and welcomes the peaceful transition from one to another civilian democratic Government in Pakistan. He said that NATO recognises the scarifies of the Pakistan Army and people in war against terrorism. NATO wants to strengthen the relations. He said that there are some misunderstandings which we want to correct. Political dialogue like this is an important source to address the misunderstandings. The NATO wants input from Pakistan Government regarding NATO Pakistan partnership. Replying to a question he said that NATO has trained some 2000 officials to control drug trafficking. He stressed that NATO has a supporting role in Afghanistan and cannot play any mediator role between Pakistan and Afghanistan or any other peace talks.


Mr. Nick Williams said that Pakistan has some concerns regarding instability in the region after the NATO departure. He emphasised that end of 2014 is not the end of International community and NATO’s commitments and support in Afghanistan. International community recognise the support of Pakistan. He said that the stability of Afghanistan is not only in the interests of NATO but it is in the interest of region and the world. He said that NATO will build the capacity of Afghan forces and 8000 to 10000 NATO personnel will be in Afghanistan for training purposes but the final decision will be with Afghan Government. He said so far Afghanistan Government welcomes the presence of NATO to train the Afghan security forces and NATO is looking beyond 2014. He said that Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan are very important for the region. He believed that every operational plan and policy of NATO in Afghanistan is in accordance with the UN resolutions. He said that most of the spending by NATO and US in Afghanistan was about development of infrastructure. He said that Afghanistan still cannot sustain with international support. Replying to a question he said that from Afghanistan’s perspective, India is like any other country supporting Afghanistan.


Opening the Forum, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed appreciated PILDAT for this initiative. He said that after NATO’s withdrawal the end of 2014, there would be a vacuum in Afghanistan and if Afghanistan remained instable that could affect Pakistan as well and there could be millions of refugees returning to Pakistan. The stability of Afghanistan is important for Pakistan and for the region. He said that during NATO withdrawal there would be a NATO container entering Pakistan after every 10 minutes and it could damage the road infrastructure. He also emphasised that the international community must recognise Pakistan’s scarifies.


Welcoming the participants, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT, said that this roundtable presents a good opportunity for Parliamentarians and NATO officials to understand each other’s perspective.


Parliamentarians, Ambassadors, former Ambassadors, Academia and media were present in large numbers in the roundtable.