Thursday, 22 April 2021

Peace with Pakistan first, Taliban later

Ashraf-Ghani-NAWAZ

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday that Kabul needs peace with Pakistan first before peace can be forged with the Taliban.

Addressing a press conference in Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani said Pakistan also needs to stop interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and instead cooperate with the National Unity Government (NUG), reported Tolo News.

President Ghani stated that Afghanistan and Pakistan have so far not finalised the memorandum of understanding on the exchange of intelligence. “The factory of interference must be closed in Afghanistan. In establishing peace, at first we want peace with Pakistan; peace with the Taliban comes next,” said Ghani. This comes after China, Afghanistan and Pakistan recently agreed to form a foreign ministers’ dialogue mechanism with the aim of improving relationships between Kabul and Islamabad.

The three countries also agreed to revive the Quadrilateral Coordination Group in order to pave the way for peace talks with the Taliban.

However, Ghani’s remarks on Tuesday indicate that the situation between Pakistan and Afghanistan has not changed and that the relationship is still fragile.

Ghani said Pakistan has two options; to use economic opportunities that Afghanistan’s location provides or to interfere in Afghanistan’s affairs – and that if they choose the latter, the international community needs to increase pressure on Pakistan. Ghani also sent out a message to the Taliban to join the peace process. “Taliban used to say in the past that they had time and the westerners had watches. Today with all due respect to the voice of the people, I say that the Taliban are running out of the time; and they should buy a watch,” Ghani stated.

Meanwhile, a number of MPs and senators said they do not think Pakistan will cooperate with Afghanistan. “They (Taliban) are a symbol for (Pakistan’s) ISI and CIA. They (ISI and CIA) are working together on this,” said Nazar Mohammad Faqiri, a member of Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament).

Earlier this month, the Afghan Presidential Palace had said that Afghanistan and Pakistan would conduct joint operations against terrorists and their safe havens along the Durand Line. According to the Afghan authorities, the development came after US senators paid a visit to Pakistani military officials and assured Afghanistan that Islamabad, in coordination with Kabul, will conduct the joint operations. On June 24, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa stated that it was about time for the other stakeholders particularly Afghanistan to do more in the fight against terrorism.

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