Pakistan on Saturday reacted sharply to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s latest aspersions on Islamabad’s counterterrorism efforts.
The Afghan leader told the NATO summit in Warsaw earlier in the day that Kabul was receiving cooperation from regional countries — except for Pakistan — to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“The exception is with Pakistan. Despite clear commitments to a quadrilateral peace process, their dangerous distinction between good and bad terrorists is being maintained in practice,” Ghani asserted.
He was referring to the four-nation group — Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States — that is working for a peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict.
Ghani’s criticism stemmed from allegations that Pakistani security forces are conducting operations against militants linked to the anti-state Pakistani Taliban but are not taking action against leaders of the Afghan Taliban, which is allegedly based in Pakistan.
Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Nafees Zakaria rejected Ghani's allegations.
“Pakistan is disappointed with the remarks of President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan at the NATO summit. ... The need of the hour is close cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan rather than the constant blame game by the Afghan government based on inaccurate assumptions,” Zakaria said.
He added: “We also expect cooperation of the Afghan government in our fight against terrorism through effective border management and denying sanctuaries to anti-Pakistan terrorists from TTP [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan]."
Pakistani authorities allege that TTP militants have taken refuge on Afghan soil after fleeing security operations and, from there, stage cross-border terror attacks.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have deteriorated in recent months over the mutual allegations of sponsoring terrorist attacks on each other’s soil. The tensions have also prompted Islamabad to introduce strict monitoring of its long, porous border with Afghanistan to prevent illegal movement on either side.