In the operation in Afghanistan, I feel there are three elements. First of all, the military action; secondly the political dispensation after the action, which means the post-action political dispensation in Afghanistan; and thirdly, the post-action rehabilitation effort in Afghanistan.
First, the military action. One is hoping, and I have got definite assurances, that this operation will be short. It ought to be targeted and also it should not result in collateral damage. I am reasonably sure that this action that is going on now is targeted. So although the perceptions are that the cities of Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad are being attacked, maybe that is not the truth.
It is the terrorist camps in the vicinities of these cities that are being targeted. That is the desire of all the forces participating in the action in Afghanistan. I also know that it is the desire of all the coalition forces that this operation should not be perceived as a war against Afghanistan itself, or against the people of Afghanistan. It is an action against terrorists, terrorism, their sanctuaries and their supporters.
I would also like to convey, and I have done this to President Bush and also to Prime Minister Tony Blair, that this action should not be allowed to be taken advantage of by the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance must not draw mileage out of this action, and the post-action scenario has to be extremely balanced.
The second element was the post-action political dispensation. There are certain parameters, and these parameters are: we must ensure the unity, the stability of Afghanistan and bring peace into Afghanistan. Whatever dispensation, it must be broad-based – it must be multi-ethnic, taking the demographic composition of Afghanistan in view. I would strongly recommend that a political dispensation should be facilitated rather than being imposed on the people of Afghanistan. And lastly, Pakistan would like to have a friendly Afghanistan on our west.
The third element is the post-action rehabilitation effort. I have interacted with all leaders, and I have also indicated this to President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, that we need to plan a major rehabilitation effort for Afghanistan as fast and as soon as possible on the heels of the action, to bring normalcy into life in Afghanistan.
I would also like to give a few words on our internal situation. Ladies and gentlemen, I know that the people of Pakistan are with my government on all the decisions we have taken in the national interest. I have interacted with all cross-sections of public opinion and society in Pakistan, and I am very positive that the vast majority are with us.
But one cause of concern is the number of foreigners, working in Pakistan on various projects, who are now leaving the country.
Another area of concern, which affects our economy, is the number of orders to our industry being cancelled from abroad, and fresh orders not being placed. The reason probably could be uncertainty as to our capability to fulfil the orders and demands under the present circumstances. I would like to convey through this forum, to the international community, that there was a war going on in Afghanistan for over a decade, against the Soviets, but in Pakistan business was going on as usual.
I am very positive that business is going on as usual here in Pakistan, and will go on as usual in Pakistan. So I don't see any reason whatsoever for any serious apprehensions on the part of anyone working in Pakistan to be leaving Pakistan, because this certainly is a concern of ours, especially because it does affect our exports and it will affect our economy.
I appeal to the world community also to see the reality here and avoid actions which will create these problems for Pakistan.