ISLAMABAD - Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani is again urging neighboring Pakistan to expel militant groups that are fighting his country.
“We don’t expect Pakistan to bring us peace. We want Pakistan to banish those groups from its territory that fight against Afghanistan and oppose peace talks,” Ghani said.
Ghani addressed reporters in Kabul after attending the recently-concluded NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, where member nations vowed to sustain their military mission in Afghanistan and reiterated funding pledges for Afghan security forces.
Kabul has long maintained Taliban leaders are based on the Pakistani side of the border from where they direct the Afghan insurgency.
“Our call for peace is still in place, but only for those who call themselves Afghans, not for those who are used as tools by others,” Ghani said, referring to Pakistan’s alleged support for the Taliban.
Ghani again said that Pakistan has imposed an "undeclared war" on Afghanistan, despite his peace overtures.
Afghan officials say that while Pakistani security forces have been arresting or killing militants linked to anti-state local Taliban groups, they continue to protect and shelter members of the Afghan Taliban.
"... their dangerous distinction between good and bad terrorists is being maintained in practice,” Ghani alleged in his speech to the NATO summit on Saturday.
Pakistan swiftly rejected Ghani’s accusations as part of Kabul’s blame game based on “inaccurate assumptions” and that it sought Afghan cooperation in counterterrorism efforts.
“It is unfortunate that Afghan leaders continue to make hostile statements against Pakistan and blame Pakistan for all failures in Afghanistan,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Islamabad. He also called for the Afghan government to deny sanctuaries to anti-Pakistan militants blamed for plotting cross-border terrorist attacks.
Call for peace talks
During a recent speech in Islamabad, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s key aide on foreign policy, Tariq Fatemi, emphasized the need for a political solution to the Afghan conflict and urged the government in Kabul and the Taliban to engage in peace talks.
“It is better for Afghan society and for the country to agree on a reconciliation process; but as far as Pakistan is concerned, we do not wish to distinguish amongst the Taliban,” Fatemi said.
The mutual allegations of sponsoring terrorism on each other's soil has recently plunged historically uneasy relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan to new lows.