ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Monday rejected as “irresponsible and baseless” the recently levelled allegations by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and warned that such statements could undermine mutual trust.

“Pakistan has conveyed its serious concerns to the Afghan side by making a strong demarche with the Ambassador of Afghanistan in Islamabad on the recent irresponsible statements and baseless allegations made by the Afghan leadership,” the FO said in a statement.

President Ghani had in an interview to German magazine Der Spiegel alleged that Pakistan operates an organised system of support for the Taliban insurgents, who receive logistics and financial support from there, besides carrying out recruitment.

Mr Ghani had further alleged that there was a deep relationship between the Taliban and the Pakistani state and attempted to back his assertion by claiming that various decision-making bodies of the Taliban were named after Pakistani cities like Quetta Shura, Miramshah Shura and Peshawar Shura, where they were supposedly based.

The Afghan president said that Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who visited him last week, had assured him that the restoration of the Taliban Emirate was not in Pakistan’s interest. But at the same time, he allegedly quoted the army chief to have told him that some of the lower levels in the army still held the opposite opinion.

Responding to the claims made by President Ghani, the FO said: “Pakistan has emphasised that groundless accusations erode trust and vitiate the environment between the two brotherly countries and disregard constructive role being played by Pakistan in facilitating the Afghan peace process.”

The Afghan side, the FO said, has been urged to effectively utilise the available forums like Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity to address all bilateral issues.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021

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