ISLAMABAD (May 21 2010): Deputy Assistant Secretary General Nato Robert Simmons stated that Nato wishes to enhance military to military relations with Pakistan and accepts the need to expand co-operation in political and public diplomacy to better deal with common challenges including terrorism, establish peace and stability in this region.
He expressed these views while delivering a lecture titled “Nato’s Transition and its Relation with Pakistan” organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) under its Distinguished Lecture Series on Thursday. Simmons said that Pakistan is Natos valued partner and faces a common challenge: the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
He said that Nato believes that it should broaden its relationship with Pakistan and not limit it to military co-operation or to high level dialogue alone but to forge practical co-operation by making use of the instrument of Individual Co-operation Programme to cover civilian and military affairs.
There is need to co-operate in public diplomacy so that Pakistan can be informed of the challenges faced by Nato. Nato is also trying to be well informed about the evolving situation in Pakistan especially with reference to the Pakistani Taliban leadership. He added that Nato has good co-operation with International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Command, Pakistan military and the Afghan military. Simmons said that Nato encourages Pakistan to participate in Arms Control and Non-Proliferation treaties.
He appreciated the role of Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the fight against terrorism. Simmons stated that Nato paid tribute to Pakistan military for their role in fighting terrorism in their own country that would lead to regional stability during President Zardari’s visit to the US.
Simmons revealed that Nato is not limited to military engagements alone but has been involved with civil emergency planning, providing relief to victims of natural disasters like earthquakes, dealing with conflict situations like in Kyrgyzstan, supporting scientific programmes for peace, dealing with economic crises that can impact on security including terrorism and concerns about energy security.
Simmons also highlighted common challenges that confront partners including proliferation, WMD’s not falling into the hands of non-state actors, terrorism and extremism, regional and ethnic conflicts, failed states, vulnerabilities of cyber system, environmental and climatic issues.
“There is a need to develop missile defence systems, cyber defence systems and exchange of intelligence to manage terrorists’ attacks. Nato also needs to protect energy resources/routes,” he said. Talking about Afghanistan, he said that it’s a difficult operation and we are committed to a long-term approach. He stated that a comprehensive approach concentrating on security issues in Afghanistan is required. Nato’s transition policy is that in time Afghanistan will train its army and police so it can take responsibility for its own security. In this context July 2011 is not a deadline, rather, it’s a part of the process of withdrawing troops.
Reconciliation and reintegration are decisions that must be made by Afghanistan. Earlier, Chairman/Director General, ISSI Dr Tanvir Ahmad Khan welcomed Simmons and referred to the report titled Nato 2020 saying that it gives a roadmap of how Nato visualises its journey through 2020. He said that Nato’s engagement in Afghanistan is not a surprise since Nato was enagaged in other Muslim countries like Kosovo.