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ISLAMABAD: Former defence secretary retired Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik has proposed a high-powered special envoy, working directly under the prime minister, to interact with the Afghan government for removing misconceptions and frictions and ensuring friendly relations between two countries.

“However, it should also be ensured that Pakistani soil would not be used against Afghanistan. Both countries should make joint strategies to address the issues. They should understand that the United States never cared about the local people while it was in Vietnam, Iraq or Libya. How will it care about the people of Afghanistan?” he said while speaking an international conference titled ‘Afghanistan Crisis: What Lies Ahead?’, organised by think tank Pakistan House at a hotel here on Monday.

Mr Malik said the US had been putting all the blame on the Haqqani network and alleging that it was operating in Pakistan.

“However, the fact is that almost 60 per cent area of Afghanistan is beyond the control of the Afghan government. On the other hand, Afghanistan doesn’t have a foreign policy and currently all the decisions are being taken under the influence of the US and India. Corruption has been continuously increasing in the public sector and the country is leading to civil war. Dialogue should be started among all ethnic entities,” he suggested.

Former defence secretary says US never cared about local people while fighting in Vietnam, Iraq and Libya

He said Pakistan was also facing problems because of poor priorities in its foreign policy. Fata reforms had also been stalled and projects under the CPEC were being delayed because of hindrances, he said.

“The US should stop interfering in Afghanistan and the decision to involve India is also creating problems. During the past one decade the US has spent $1 trillion in Afghanistan; had it invested one-fourth of it on development, there would have been no problem in that country,” Mr Malik said.

He recommended that border control should be strengthened in Pakistan and Afghanistan and both countries should take extra steps for bilateral trade.

Director General of the Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies, Kabul, Dr Abdul Baqi Amin said the people and government of Pakistan had helped Afghanistan with the most difficult conditions during the battle of the Soviet Union, with more than five million Afghan refugees in their homeland, and about two million refugees were still living in Pakistan.

European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Jean-Francois Cautain said the safety of population in both countries was important. The two countries should not suspend dialogue and focus on the economy and security to solve the Afghan crisis.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2018

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