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Afghan president at UN urges dialogue with Pakistan to curb extremism

Updated September 20, 2017
Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters on Tuesday in New York City.— AFP
Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters on Tuesday in New York City.— AFP

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appealed Tuesday to Pakistan to work together to curb extremists, seeing an opportunity as the US sends in more troops.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Ghani said US President Donald Trump's new Afghan strategy sent a signal to Taliban guerrillas that they cannot win on the field and must negotiate peace.

“We welcome this strategy, which has now set us on a pathway to certainty. The Afghan people have looked to the United States for this type of resolve for years,” Ghani said.

Editorial: Pak-US-Afghan cooperation is key

Trump last month announced an Afghanistan strategy that reversed his previous calls to wind down America's longest war, which was launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks. He instead has sent thousands more troops to Afghanistan and pledged a tougher line on Pakistan for its alleged support to militants.

“We now also have an opportunity for a dialogue with our neighbours on how we can work together earnestly to eliminate terrorism and contain extremism,” Ghani said.

“I call upon Pakistan to engage with us on a comprehensive state to state dialogue on peace, security and regional cooperation leading to prosperity,” he said.

Fractious Pakistan-US relations got further strained last month when President Trump unveiled his administration’s policy on Afghanistan and South Asia. The policy lays special emphasis on kinetic operations to subdue Taliban militancy in Afghanistan, envisions greater role for India in Afghanistan and the overall regional security, and has been particularly hawkish on Pakistan accusing it of being an insincere partner in the fight against terrorism.

The new policy, which was seen here as humiliating, disrespectful to Pakistani sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, and indifferent to Islamabad’s security concerns, prompted a re-assessment of ties at the highest level.

The process is yet to complete, but indications from different levels of government point towards an existing consensus that there is no other option, but to stay engaged with US.

Despite challenges in their relationship, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US have launched a new trilateral mechanism to counter Daesh threat. A meeting of the trilateral process was hosted by Afghanistan last week where the three pledged to continue the fight against the common threat of terrorism.

Afghan envoy, Pakistan's Army chief meet

The following day, Pakistan Army's media wing issued a press release stating that Afghanistan's Ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal, had met Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at General Headquarters.

"Issues of mutual interest, including [the] security situation were discussed. The gradual improvement in bilateral cooperation was also noted with satisfaction," the brief release stated.