Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that his administration has taken necessary steps to reach a peace deal with Pakistan, Afghanistan’s Khamaa Press has reported.
Speaking to local residents and elders of southern Zabul province, President Ghani rejected the perceptions that Afghanistan wanted destruction of Pakistan.
“This is neither the notion of the Afghan government and nation nor will Afghanistan allow anyone to do bad with the country,” he said.
Ghani also added that such perceptions that the government’s strategies regarding peace efforts were not clear, were also baseless.
This comes as President Ghani has long been insisting on peace with Pakistan first approach.
In his message on the first day of Eid Al-Adha, President Ghani said the Afghan government was fully prepared for the peace talks and negotiations with Pakistan for peace was on the agenda of the government.
He was apparently gesturing towards his previous remarks where he insisted that peace talks with Pakistan was important and should come first before holding talks with the anti-government armed militant groups.
Afghan officials have long been criticising Pakistan for allowing the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network to use its soil for planning and coordinating attacks in Afghanistan, calling it as one of the major barriers in forcing the militant groups to participate in talks.
Earlier in October, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Kabul to hold discussions with Afghan authorities in an attempt to bridge the growing trust deficit between the two neighbouring countries.
During his meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, matters of regional security and counter-terrorism efforts were discussed.
“Both sides discussed various important issues including security in the region, bilateral relationships, peace and stability, anti-terror efforts, business and transit relationships, and mid-term and long-term relationships between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Tolo news had said, quoting a statement from the Afghan president’s office.
Ghani had emphasised the need for task teams and monitoring mechanisms to be established to create a cooperation framework and ensure implementation of promises and deadlines.
“Peace and stability are for the benefit of both Pakistan and Afghanistan and could lift the people in both countries out of poverty,” the Afghan president had said.
Pakistan had agreed with Ghani’s suggestion, promising its task teams would draft implementation plans.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been strained for some time; Islamabad alleges that the militant Islamic State (IS) group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups are operating from bases inside Afghanistan, and has provided specific names of the militants it wants the Afghan government to act against.
Kabul also levels similar charges, saying that it is suffering at the hands of Taliban groups and other militants operating from inside Pakistani territory. But Islamabad has always denied such accusations, insisting that a strong and stable Afghanistan is in its best interests.
Pakistani authorities maintain that militants fleeing security operations have taken shelter in Afghanistan and are plotting attacks against the country with the help of Afghan intelligence.
The Quadrilateral Coordination Group, which includes the two countries as well as the US and China, has been dysfunctional for well over a year now.
The US, which has been busy with a review of its policy on Afghanistan and South Asia, has stayed away.
However, a fresh tripartite meeting — without Beijing — held in Kabul earlier this month renewed all parties’ resolve to eliminate IS from the region and identified “information sharing, complementary efforts and enhanced cooperation” as the main areas for cooperation.
In a talk at the Asia Society in New York earlier this week, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had criticised US attempts to single out Pakistan for all ills plaguing war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Pakistan, he said, had in the past done all it could to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan, making sure that Pakistani soil was not used against any country.
However, he maintained that Islamabad could not take responsibility for Afghanistan’s peace and security and be asked to achieve what the combined strength of some of the most powerful and richest countries could not accomplish.