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KARACHI: Afghanistan asked Pakistan on Tuesday not to object to its growing ties with India, as the relationship between Kabul and New Delhi would not “inflict harm” upon Islamabad.

The advice-cum-assurance came from Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omar Zakhilwal who was speaking at the second round of Afgha­nistan-Pakistan dialogue, titled ‘Bilateral Reconciliation: Oppor-tunities and Challenges’, in Islamabad.

The dialogue was launched by the Regional Peace Institute in collaboration with the Royal Danish Defence College. The first round was held in Kabul in May.

According to a Voice of America report, Mr Zakhilwal said Pakistan should maintain a good brotherly relationship with his country irrespective of Afghanistan’s ties with any other nation, including India.

He said Pakistan and Afghanistan must respect each other’s sovereignty and move ahead to narrow down their differences to build long-lasting trust.

“Pakistan should not object to our ties with India. We assure that Afghanistan-India relationship will not inflict harm upon Pakistan,” he said, according to Dawn.com.

Dr Zakhilwal emphasised that peace in Afghanistan was mandatory to establishing a durable peace in Pakistan.

He also accepted the mismanagement on the part of his government and said that Kabul should take action against the sanctuaries of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan operating against Islamabad from inside Afghanistan.

On Sept 6, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in his Defence Day speech said Pakistan expected that sanctuaries of Pakistani terrorists on Afghan soil would be quickly and effectively removed.

Only last month, the National Security Committee of the Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi endorsed the normalisation of diplomatic and political ties with Afghanistan which have been frozen over terrorism concerns and border disputes.

Relations between the two countries turned sour when Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan of waging an “undeclared war of aggression” against his country. Both countries have long accused each other of turning a blind eye to militants operating along their porous border.

There were also differences over transit trade, with Afghanistan insisting on trading with India through the Wagah border crossing.

On July 15, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat said that Indian intelligence agency RAW and other hostile agencies were operating from Afghanistan to create unrest in Pakistan in general and Balochistan in particular, and their designs to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor were also well-known.

Of late, Pakistan and Afghanistan have restarted their engagement to address irritants in thier relations. Multiple exchanges have taken place between the two sides over the past month.

Earlier this month, President Ghani said Kabul “is ready for comprehensive political talks” with Islamabad as “peace with Pakistan is in our national agenda”.

Pakistan, however, cautiously responded to his talks offer and reminded him of the need for an extensive multilayered engagement and revitalising the existing processes for dialogue.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2017