Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani on Friday, 16 July, lashed out at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan accusing the Pakistan military of supporting the Taliban. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar too, slammed Islamabad for “blocking connectivity” with landlocked Afghanistan.
Ghani had said at the International Conference on South Asia-Central Asia Regional Connectivity-Challenges and Opportunities in Tashkent that several Pakistan organisations are supporting the Taliban and are celebrating the destruction of the assets of the Afghan people, despite repeated assurances by Prime Minister Khan.
Citing intelligence reports, he said that “more than 10,000 jihadi fighters” have entered Afghanistan from Pakistan in the last month. He also accused the country of not actively taking part in negotiations with Taliban to put an end to the conflict.
Pak Blocking Connectivity With Landlocked Afghan: Jaishankar
Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Jaishankar said economic growth, driven by connectivity, commerce and contacts, also needs regional cooperation and prosperity.
Jaishankar had met Ghani on 15 July and reiterated India’s support for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Slamming Pakistan for not allowing overland transit for trade and connectivity with landlocked Afghanistan, he said, “The challenge we face is that politics, vested interests and instability can be formidable impediments to its realisation. There are lessons too from our experiences that need to be understood. The real issues are of mindsets, not of disputes. Blocking connectivity in practice while professing support in principle benefits no one. A one-sided view of trade rights and obligations can never work. No serious connectivity can ever be a one-way street,” ANI reported. Taking a dig at the neighbouring country, he said that since 2016, India has taken “practical steps” to operationalise the Chabahar port in Iran, and facilitate trade.
“This provides a secure, viable and unhindered access to the sea for Central Asian countries. Its efficacy is now clearly proven. We have proposed to include the Chabahar port in the framework of INSTC (International North South Transit Corridor). The formation of India-Uzbekistan-Iran-Afghanistan Quadrilateral Working Group on the joint use of Chabahar port is a welcome development,” he said.
He added, “Development and prosperity go hand in hand with peace and security. For reliable connectivity within and through Afghanistan, the world must have confidence in its governance. Our connectivity deliberations expect predictability, efficiency and observance of norms of our time as its foundation.”
Unfair to Blame Pakistan for Afghanistan Situation: Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his disappointment over Ghani’s remarks.
"To blame Pakistan for what is going on in Afghanistan and Taliban is not fair," he said.
"Afghanistan is natural land bridge between Central Asia and South Asia, and peace in Afghanistan is the most critical factor for regional connectivity," he said.
Stating that Pakistan has faced a lot of economic loss due to the conflict, he assured that Pakistan will support all initiatives for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
“President Ghani, let me just say that the country that will be most affected by turmoil in Afghanistan is Pakistan. Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties in the last 15 years. The last thing Pakistan wants is more conflict.”Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
He said, contrary to beliefs, he has taken several efforts to work out a proposal for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
"No country has tried harder than Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the table for a dialogue. We have made every effort, short of taking military action against the Taliban in Pakistan, to get them on the dialogue table and to have a peaceful settlement [in Afghanistan],” he added.
He also hoped to enhance trade and economic cooperation in the region.
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