Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani has rejected assertions made in a New York Times editorial published May 12, which implicated Pakistan for the mess in Afghanistan and termed Islamabad a “duplicitous” and “dangerous” partner for the United States and Afghanistan.
In a statement that was a rejoinder to the NYT indictment, Jilani came out hard against the organisation, questioning what he called its “partisanship”.
He said the situation in Afghanistan was a “collective failure of the international community”.
“The May 12 editorial about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan is biased and negates the complex history of this prolonged conflict.
“Allegations of duplicity and double game were extremely painful as Pakistan has suffered the most due to the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the mess in Afghanistan which is the result of the collective failure of the international community,” Jilani said.
Alluding to the losses Pakistan has suffered as a result of the war in Afghanistan, Jilani said hundreds of suicide bombings and tens of thousands of civilian casualties were a direct result of the US-led war after 9/11.
“Instead of complaining about the heavy cost imposed on us due to sustained external intervention in our neighbourhood, Pakistan has consistently cooperated with the United States and coalition forces in sharing intelligence and decimating the terror outfits operating from the region,” he added.
Jilani also said that since 2009, Pakistani forces have been engaged in incremental operations to clear Pakistani soil from all the terrorist networks which are concentrated in this area because of “competing interests and mutual rivalries of the big powers”.
“It is Pakistan’s military which ‘fractured the back of Taliban’ through indiscriminate counter-terrorism operations.”
Instead of putting the entire blame on Pakistan, the Ambassador said it would have been better had the editorial also commented on the protracted Afghan refugee issue and the lack of border management among as underlying reasons for regional instability.
“Omitting such fundamental questions that impede a long-term solution to the Afghan problem smack partisanship on part of the New York Times.”
Jilani made clear that Pakistan did not benefit from instability in Afghanistan and always wished them peace and prosperity. “To this end, we are pursuing mutually beneficial economic integration through the policy of a peaceful neighbourhood.”
He pointed out the groundbreaking of CASA–1000 power project on May 11, which he said will bring Pakistan and Afghanistan closer.
The envoy went on to say that Pakistan played a “completely neutral role in the Afghan elections” and has offered all possible assistance to the Ghani government to find a political solution in his country.
Referring to the quadrilateral group holding talks with the Afghan Taliban – which involves the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan – Jilani said talks had reiterated that long-term peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved through reconciliation between the various Afghan stakeholders.
“It is imperative that this peace initiative be given a chance to succeed in what the war has failed to achieve in the last fifteen years.”