Allegations won't work, Islamabad tells Kabul

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has conveyed to Afghanistan that hurling allegations will hurt peace efforts by Islamabad to improve ties, The Nation leant.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry said that the recent statements by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah had annoyed Pakistan.

“Pakistan has contacted Afghanistan over the recent statements and made it clear that hostile statements will be damaging for the efforts by Islamabad to improve ties,” one official told The Nation.

He said: “Afghanistan had promised to support Pakistan’s efforts to build the confidence level.” Reports said that an Afghan military delegation will visit Pakistan in the coming days to discuss the border situation after several strikes by militants from Afghanistan resulting in deaths on the Pakistani side.

This week, Afghan Chief of General Staff Mohammad Sharif Yaftali said his country was trying to find out a diplomatic solution to all issues with Pakistan.

Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi said that peace in war-torn Afghanistan could only be achieved through talks and not cross-border firing.

“The promotion of a political settlement and the pursuit of a military solution in Afghanistan are mutually incompatible,” Ambassador Lodhi said while speaking at the UN on the situation Afghanistan.

This week, Kabul also ordered its border forces to respond to the “wave of shelling by Pakistan” - which has allegedly displaced more than 300 families.

Amid the border tension, President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah accused Pakistan of playing a ‘double game’ and sheltering militants. They blamed Pakistan for the unrest in Afghanistan as Pakistan awaited Ghani’s proposed visit to Islamabad.  In 2016, Pakistan announced to fence the borders with Afghanistan to check movement as scores of suicide attacks were traced back to handlers in Afghanistan.

Last month, Ghani accepted Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s invitation to come to Pakistan to strengthen diplomatic ties after a meeting in Kabul. Ghani, who had previously declined the invitation to visit Pakistan, said this time he will “come with his entire family.”

Another official at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had protested against the hostile statements from Afghanistan and threats of military strikes across the border.

“We have told them that Pakistan has never fired across the border and had always responded to strikes. We have asked them to work for peace rather than issuing irresponsible statements. The statements by President Ghani and Abdullah are uncalled for,” he said.

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said that Pakistani security personnel have been killed by terrorists operating from sanctuaries in Afghanistan in the recent days.

“The presence of terrorists’ safe havens in Afghanistan is an established reality. We have also asked the Afghan government to share the investigation with us about the death of the Pakistani diplomatic official in Jalalabad. We are interested in peace in Afghanistan more than any other country,” he added.

International relations expert Dr AZ Hilali said that the Afghan government was under the influence of India and the United States and conspiring against Pakistan. “Pakistan and Afghanistan should support each other to achieve good results. Afghanistan is not supporting our efforts for peace,” he said.

Hilali said that Ghani was speaking in favour of India just to stay in power. “They (Afghanistan) are letting India use their soil against us,” he added.

Defence analyst Lt-Gen (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi said that Pakistan knew the importance of stability in Afghanistan and was using all its resources to improve the situation in the neighbouring Muslim-majority country.

“Interestingly, Afghanistan is opposing the border management which will ensure an end to infiltration. Ghani and Abdullah should dismantle the terror networks in Afghanistan instead of holding Pakistan responsible for the unrest in Afghanistan,” he said. He said that India was sponsoring the militants along the Pak-Afghan border to target Pakistan.

APP adds: Addressing the UN General Assembly, Maleeha said peace in war-torn Afghanistan can only be achieved through negotiations and reconciliation, not by the continuing resort to military force, as the two approaches are "incompatible".

"The promotion of a political settlement and the pursuit of a military solution in Afghanistan are mutually incompatible," Maleeha said while speaking in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan.

Pursuing both those options would lead to more suffering and deep instability, she added.  "Neither the Coalition and Kabul, nor the Afghan Taliban, can impose a military solution on each other," she told the 193-member Assembly.

While the international community had a role to play in promoting peace in Afghanistan, the solution must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, the Pakistani envoy said.

Pakistan, she said, remains ready to help in promoting such a dialogue, noting that its participation in every regional and international initiative for peace and reconciliation was a testament to this commitment.

Pakistan had continued to engage in all processes designed to promote a political solution - the Heart of Asia, 6+1, International Contact Group, Quadrilateral Coordination Group, Moscow Format, and the Kabul process.

The Pakistani envoy also called on the Taliban to abandon violence and come to the negotiating table. "Progress however will be assured only when the Afghan parties themselves conclude that there is no military solution to the Afghan war, and peace can be achieved only through an unconditional dialogue."

Unfortunately, she said, the security situation in Afghanistan had significantly deteriorated, with increasing numbers of civilian casualties. "There is no justification for the indiscriminate attacks against women, children and men," she stressed.

Terrorist groups posed a clear and present danger for Afghanistan and the region, the envoy added, underscoring the nexus between terrorism and drug trafficking.

"We have a long border which is not easy to control,” she emphasised, noting various ways Pakistan was securing, strengthening and reinforcing security measures that include monitoring and controlling the border for effective management.

Such measures can play a vital role in stopping the cross-border movement of terrorists, Maleeha said, hoping the Afghan government would respond positively.

Pakistan, she said, envisages a future of even closer economic cooperation with Afghanistan, actively promoting the TAPI gas pipeline and the CASA 1000 project aimed at addressing the energy needs of the region.

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