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Non-state actors pose grave threat, says Afghan general

April 19, 2015


ABBOTTABAD: Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Afghan Army’s Chief of General Staff, reviews the passing-out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, on Saturday.—White Star
ABBOTTABAD: Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Afghan Army’s Chief of General Staff, reviews the passing-out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, on Saturday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Afghan military chief Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi called on Saturday for “sincere” counter-terrorism cooperation between his country and Pakistan and cautioned against missing the “historic opportunity” of defeating terrorists.

“Countering and ultimately defeating this menace and threat [of terrorism] effectively, therefore, requires sincere, close, result-oriented cooperation and coordination...based on the accepted principles and norms of equality, non-interference in each other’s affairs and mutual respect,” the Afghan chief of general staff said at a passing out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), Kakul.

The Afghan commander became the first foreign dignitary to preside over the commissioning ceremony of officers who completed their training at the country’s premier military school. Six Afghan cadets are also undergoing training at the school.

His participation in the ceremony as the chief guest denotes an improvement in relations between the two countries.

Gen Karimi described terrorists as a “common enemy” of Pakistan and Afghanistan, who neither respected international boundaries, nor were bound by religious or moral principles. He said the two countries now faced a much graver threat from non-state actors than ever before.

His comments came as an explosion outside a bank in Jalalabad in Afghanistan left 33 dead.

The Afghan military chief reminded that peace in two countries was interlinked.

“The changing nature of the threat environment…the changing nature of war and peace in our age means that you must think of peace, security and stability beyond our limited national borders because we cannot have peace in our country when the neighbour is suffering and vice versa,” Gen Karimi said.

Gen Karimi becomes first foreign dignitary to preside over commissioning ceremony at PMA Kakul

Pakistan and Afghan leaders are convinced that they cannot have peace in their countries with instability continuing in the neighbourhood, but the progress to peace has remained marred by mutual mistrust. Relations dramatically improved after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani assumed office in September. The two countries further showed unprecedented counter-terrorism cooperation after the December 16 Peshawar school tragedy. But, still a lot has yet to be achieved, he said.

While Gen Karimi listed the principles of equality, non-interference and mutual respect for sustained and meaningful cooperation in the fight against terrorism, he also emphasised on producing tangible results from bilateral cooperation so as to gain public ownership for the process.

“To assure this crucial support states need to continue to show to their respective publics that their cooperation is working and it’s fruitful. And this can only be done through actions and cooperation that produce results and concrete results as an outcome,” the Afghan commander said in a possible reference to the support Pakistan had pledged for the reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.

After initial positive responses by both sides, the process appears to have faltered.

The Afghan military chief said that elimination of terrorism from Pakistan and Afghanistan was, nevertheless, “attainable” and required the two countries to “redouble their earnest sincere efforts” for the “rightful aspiration of millions of our citizens for a life of peace, security, dignity and prosperity”.

He noted that the ongoing Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and Afghanistan was a cause of hope.

“We must not, under any circumstances, let this historic opportunity slip from our hands,” he cautioned.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, condemning the Jalalabad bombing, echoed Gen Karimi’s views when he said: “Terrorism is a common enemy of both the countries which are now taking joint steps to eradicate this menace.”

He recalled that Pakistan had carried out successful counter-terrorism operations since last June when Zarb-i-Azb Operation was started.

“Pakistan targeted these terrorists in their hideouts and dismantled their networks with effective strategy,” he said and offered help to Afghanistan to successfully fight terrorism.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2015

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