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Afghanistan recalls ambassador to Pakistan in row over PM Khan's remarks

Updated March 26, 2019

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Afghanistan has recalled its ambassador to Pakistan over reported remarks by Prime Minister Imran Khan that suggested Kabul should set up an interim government. — AFP/File
Afghanistan has recalled its ambassador to Pakistan over reported remarks by Prime Minister Imran Khan that suggested Kabul should set up an interim government. — AFP/File

Afghanistan has recalled its ambassador to Pakistan over reported remarks by Prime Minister Imran Khan that suggested that Kabul should set up an interim government, calling the comments "irresponsible".

The premier had told journalists on Monday that forming an interim Afghan government would smooth peace talks between the United States and Taliban officials since the militant group refuses to speak to the current government, according to comments published in The Express Tribune.

The Afghan government was a hurdle in (the) peace process that was insisting that Taliban should talk to it, Prime Minister Khan was quoted as saying.

He also said he had cancelled a scheduled meeting with Taliban leaders because of objections by the Afghan government.

Read: Taliban meeting nixed over Kabul’s concerns: PM Khan

Afghanistan summoned Pakistan's deputy ambassador to discuss the "irresponsible" remarks by Prime Minister Khan, said Afghan foreign affairs ministry spokesman Sibghatullah Ahmadi in a series of tweets on Tuesday. A statement issued by the Afghan embassy confirmed the development.

The Afghan government deemed Khan's statements as "an obvious example of Pakistan's interventional policy and disrespect to the national sovereignty and determination of the people of Afghanistan," Ahmadi said.

DawnNewsTV has reached out to the Foreign Office in Islamabad for a comment on the matter.

In a tweet, US Special Envoy for Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad also appeared to criticise the prime minister's reported comments.

He said "while Pakistan has made constructive contributions on the Afghan Peace Process, PM Khan's comments did not".

"The future of Afghanistan is for Afghans, and only Afghans, to decide."

The row marks the third time in just over a month that Kabul has demanded an explanation from Pakistan over comments related to peace talks, illustrating the flaring tensions between the two neighbours at a sensitive time.

US and Taliban officials have held recurring talks to end the 17-year war, but the Taliban consider the Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani as illegitimate.

Ghani's mandate expires in May, and pressure is mounting on him to step down before the next presidential election, scheduled for September 28. Ghani has rejected the idea of an interim government.


With additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui in Islamabad.