FO asks Kabul to stop blame game, seeks cooperation

Published July 10, 2016
Ghani says Pakistan's dangerous distinction between good and bad terrorists is being maintained in practice. ─Afghan President's website
Ghani says Pakistan's dangerous distinction between good and bad terrorists is being maintained in practice. ─Afghan President's website

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Despite its disappointment over Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s diatribe against Pakistan at a Nato summit in Warsaw, the Foreign Office on Saturday said Pakistan would continue with its efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan and asked Kabul to cooperate in its fight against terrorism.

“Since we have a genuine interest in seeing peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan would continue to make every effort to help bring peace in Afghanistan,” the Foreign Office said in a late-night rejoinder to President Ghani’s speech at the Nato summit.

Mr Ghani had in Warsaw blamed Pakistan for continuing to make a distinction between good and bad Taliban. “Our regional initiatives with neighbours are beginning to yield significant cooperative dividends. The exception is with Pakistan — despite clear commitments to a quadrilateral peace process, their dangerous distinction between good and bad terrorists is being maintained in practice,” Mr Ghani said, asking the world community to help develop “rules of the game”, which in his view could bind his country and its neighbours “to collective security and harmony”.

The FO statement said it was “unfortunate that Afghan leaders continue to make hostile statements against Pakistan and blame Pakistan for all failures in Afghanistan”.

Islamabad and Kabul have for the past decade and a half had tense relations due to differences over counterterrorism strategies and mutual distrust except for a brief period following Mr Ghani’s installation during which efforts for a rapprochement were made by both sides. However, the brief bonhomie ended with the collapse of the reconciliation dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban last year in Murree following a disclosure about Taliban chief Mullah Omar’s death and the subsequent surge in violence in Afghanistan.

Another effort began in December last year, which resulted in start of a four-nation initiative for reconciliation in Afghanistan — the Quadrilateral Coordination Group — but that too ended in failure as the Taliban refused to join the peace talks.

Death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the Taliban leader, in a US drone attack on Pak­istani soil in May further complicat­ed the situation. Pakistani emphasis on border management, which has been resisted by Afghanistan, fuelled the tensions.

Urging Kabul to end a blame game, the FO called for cooperation in defeating terrorism. “We also expect cooperation of the Afghan government in our fight against terrorism through effective border management and denying sanctuaries to anti-Pakistan terrorists from TTP [outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan],” the FO said. “The need of the hour is close cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan rather than constant blame game by the Afghan government based on inaccurate assumptions.”

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had earlier said: “Terrorism could only be defeated with unity and cooperation.”

He had hinted that Pakistan would be stepping up its efforts for peace in Afghanistan and had asked Kabul to “capitalize on the dividends of these [Pakistan’s] counterterrorism operations” for taking reconciliation forward.

Afghan president’s remarks in Warsaw

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told Nato leaders in Warsaw that peace was Afghanistan’s top priority, but the conflict in which it was embroiled was very complicated.

“The conflict is multi-dimensional, ranging from Al Qaeda and Daesh [the Arabic acronym for the militant Islamic State group] to terrorist groups with Central Asian, Chinese, and Russian origins, to Pakistani groups classified as terrorists by Pakistan and Afghan Taliban groups,” he said, according to the text of his speech on the president’s official website.

He said that his government was striving for both regional cooperation as well as cooperation with the Islamic countries for defeating terrorist networks.

Citing the 2015 Makkah declaration against terrorism as an example, Mr Ghani said that Afghanistan’s dialogue with the Arab-Muslim community was productive.

He said that the recent terrorist attack near the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid-i-Nabvi] in Madina had outraged the Muslim community and “should result in a consensus against the tiny minority that is attempting to hijack our civilisation”.

He thanked the Nato countries for “fighting shoulder to shoulder” with Afghan forces and said that the organisation had maintained its relevance and effectiveness in the paradigm shift presented by post-9/11 Afghanistan.

“The organisation’s fulfilment of both its combat and support missions in Afghanistan is a corroboration of Nato’s continued global relevance, adaptability and effectiveness. Its transformative legacy, however, is building our 352,000-strong security and defence forces,” Mr Ghani said.

He also thanked US President Barack Obama for expanding the authority of the Resolute Support Mission and his latest decision to maintain American troops in Afghanistan throughout his term.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2016

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