Kabul, New Delhi join hands against Pakistan

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NEW DELHI: Following in the footsteps of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday took a dig at Pakistan saying that there was a war going on in the country which the media doesn’t speak about.

“There are 207,000 Pakistani forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. This violence needs coverage and understanding, and needs to be stopped,” he said while addressing at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses.

His strong remarks were part of his address titled the ‘Fifth Wave of Political Violence and Global Terrorism’.“Making a distinction between good and bad terrorism is an approach that is enormously short-sighted. Those who think they can manipulate the psychology of this phenomenon or affect the pathology are mistaken,” said Ghani.

“Terrorism will bite probably like a snake. States need to have a common perspective,” he warned.Ghani also said the threat of terrorism was not a passing threat, and that terrorist organisations change very rapidly, even if their objectives remain the same.

Ghani, on a day-long visit to New Delhi, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the morning and President Pranab Mukherjee in the evening.Ghani said Islam does not condone those using religion to justify terrorist acts — a discreet reference to the Taliban.

“A tiny minority cannot be allowed to hijack a civilisation and a religion. There is no terrorism in the past 160 years except for adherence, practitioners from every civilization that we take. So, there is no reason to demonise a certain civilization. But on the other hand, members of that community have an obligation to speak truth to violence,” Ghani said.

“It is unacceptable to speak in the name of Islam. Islam does not allow for terrorism. Terrorism must be condemned and we must stand together to contain it. Extremism cannot be permitted a platform. This is denial of everything that we stand for, and everything that civilization has stood for,” he added.

Meanwhile, the two countries inked three pacts, including an extradition treaty, after Ghani held discussions with Modi in the national capital on a wide range of issues of mutual interest.“One more step in closer ties. Exchange of agreements on MLAT (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty), Extradition & peaceful uses of outer space follows talks,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

A joint statement said Modi and President Ghani expressed concern over the continued use of terrorism and violence in the region for achieving political objectives.“The PM reiterated India’s support for unified, sovereign, democratic, peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” it said.

Modi has also offered that, as a close neighbour and friend of Afghanistan and its people, India would allocate a sum of $1 billion.“The prime minister also proposed to supply world class and easily affordable medicines from India and cooperation in solar energy,” it said.

Meanwhile, in an indirect attack at Pakistan, Swarup on Thursday said while India always worked towards Afghanistan’s development, there were some who had given the country only “bloodshed and violence”. “India has engaged with Afghanistan in capacity and capability building in agriculture, water, infrastructure, energy, health, education and many other sectors and the landmarks of this partnership are well-known,” he said speaking at his weekly briefing.

“I think every patriotic Afghan appreciates and supports India’s development partnership with Afghanistan,” he said.He rejected the opinion that the main achievement of Ashraf Ghani was the ramping up of defence cooperation. “This is a totally incorrect inference. If you look at the joint statement issued yesterday, you would see how much of space has been devoted to the all-round India-Afghanistan cooperation,” he said.

The Afghan president arrived in the Indian capital, his second visit to this country, in the morning and was received by President Pranab Mukherjee and Modi. Meanwhile, Pakistan called on the Afghan government to cease unwarranted accusations and instead join it in implementing strict border controls to check cross-border terrorism.

Speaking in the Security Council’s quarterly debate on Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, also called on Kabul to ensure its territory was not used by anyone to foment terrorism in Pakistan.

She said her country was ready to work with the Afghan government through the recently-constituted High Level Mechanism to address border concerns but no one “should expect Pakistan to fight Afghanistan’s war on its soil”.

To prevent cross border attacks, Ambassador Lodhi said Pakistan will fence extended parts of the border. “If the Afghan government seeks an end to cross-border terrorism, it should support such fencing and strict controls at the international border,” she added.

Voicing the international community’s unanimous view that sustainable peace was only achievable through a negotiated end to the war, Lodhi said, “Fifteen years of war, waged by the world’s most powerful forces could not yield a military solution.”

A military solution, she said, was even more unlikely now.Underscoring that a dialogue between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban remains the only way to end Afghanistan’s suffering, Dr. Lodhi noted that the Afghan parties themselves appear to have moved away from the international consensus that peace can only be achieved through negotiations.

“Neither side appears willing to talk, except on their own terms. Meanwhile, new actors are being introduced into the conflict”, she added.Ambassador Lodhi told the 15 member Council that Pakistan was willing to help in reviving this dialogue, as it did in June 2015, at President Ashraf Ghani’s request.

“But this requires efforts by all four members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group – Afghanistan, the US, China and Pakistan – which remains an important vehicle to assist an Afghan-led peace process,” she added.

Elaborating on the threat posed by the rise of Daesh in Afghanistan, Ambassador Lodhi said that several elements of the so-called Pakistani Taliban – the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan – have declared their allegiance or integration with Daesh.

“It is thus strange that some of these TTP elements, allied with Daesh, continue to enjoy the backing of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency,” she said and warned that unless peace is restored in Afghanistan, it risks emerging again as a central source of global terrorism.The Pakistani envoy said her country had paid an onerous price for almost four decades of strife and conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan, she said, continues to play host to the world’s largest protracted presence of refugees.

“Apart from Afghanistan itself, it is Pakistan that stands to gain the most from the restoration of peace across our western frontier,” she stressed.

Ambassador Lodhi concluded by committing to work with the Afghan government for improvement of the bilateral relationship, on the basis of shared values and interests, and emphasised that the people of the two countries enjoyed age-old bonds of kinship, faith and shared history.

 —Originally published in The News

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