In a hard-hitting speech, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said more than 10,000 ‘jihadi fighters entered the country from Pakistan in the last month, while Islamabad had failed to convince the Taliban to participate “seriously” in the peace talks.
According to the Kabul Times, Ghani made the remarks on Friday while addressing the Central and South Asia connectivity conference held in Tashkent, with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan also in attendance.
Khan said it was “unfair” to blame Pakistan for the situation in Afghanistan.
“Contrary to repeated assurances by Prime Minister Khan and his Generals that Pakistan does not find a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in Pakistan’s interest and fell short of the use of force and its power and influence to make the Taliban negotiate seriously, networks and organizations supporting the Taliban are openly celebrating the destruction of the assets and capabilities of the Afghan people and State,” Ghani said.
Responding to Ghani, Khan said, “President Ghani, let me just say that the country that will be most affected by turmoil in Afghanistan is Pakistan. Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties in the last 15 years. The last thing Pakistan wants is more conflict.”
He said that the Taliban were no longer willing to compromise after the United States set a date for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
“When there were 150,000 Nato troops…that was the time to ask the Taliban to come to the table. Why were the Taliban going to compromise once the exit date was given…why would they listen to us when they are sensing victory?” he said.
Khan said Pakistan’s economy was finally recovering after going through a difficult phase. “I repeat, the last thing we want is turbulence in Afghanistan.”
The President said that Afghanistan was ready to counter the Taliban and their supporters as long as they realize that a political solution is the only way forward.
On Thursday, First Vice-President Amrullah Saleh that the Pakistan military had threatened missile launches against the Afghan Air Force if it targeted the Taliban militia that has seized border check-posts at the frontier town of Spin Boldak.
In a statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry denied the claim.
Ghani and Khan later met for a bilateral meeting as well, according to Pakistani and Afghan officials.