Hours after attending the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar, Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Sunday India’s efforts to divide Afghanistan and Pakistan will not go far as “we are next-door neighbours”.
“We don’t need any pressure on counter terrorism because we have done more than any other country to eliminate it,” he told reporters in Islamabad. “Our relations with Afghanistan stand independently… there is a lot interaction because we are next-door neighbours…India’s efforts to divide us will not go very far.”
Aziz-Modi handshake sets off media frenzy
Aziz said Afghanistan’s comments against Pakistan were regrettable but understandable because of the intensity of insurgency in war-torn country. “There is certain amount of anxiety which tells us why such comments came about,” he said.
Pakistan cannot control the terrorists without proper border management as there is always unchecked movement across the border, he added. “Afghanistan will have to do on their side as well as we cannot control people from operating inside Afghanistan.”
Justifying his his participation in the conference, the adviser said: “We don’t let the bi-lateral issues mix up with multi-lateral matters.”
Aziz said he met many officials and leaders on the sidelines of the conference, including foreign ministers of Iran, Turkmenistan and China, as well as Indian NSA Ajit Doval.
Modi, Ghani snub Pakistan
Earlier, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made thinly-veiled references to Islamabad said inaction against terrorism in the region will encourage terrorists and their facilitators.
“Silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters,” ANI quoted Modi as saying as he jointly inaugurated the 6th session of the Ministerial Conference with Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani.
“We must demonstrate strong collective will to defeat terror networks that cause bloodshed and spread fear,” Modi added.
Silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters: PM Modi #HeartofAsia— ANI (@ANI) December 4, 2016
Not just against forces of terrorism but also against those who support, shelter and finance them: PM Modi #HeartofAsiaConference— ANI (@ANI) December 4, 2016
Speaking at the conference, Ghani said: “We need to identify cross-border terrorism and a fund to combat terrorism. Pakistan has pledged $500 million for Afghanistan’s development, this amount can be spent to contain extremism.”
Pak has pledged 500 million dollars for Afghanistan's development,this amount Mr.Aziz(Sartaj) can be spent to contain extremism:Ashraf Ghani— ANI (@ANI) December 4, 2016
A key Taliban leader has himself admitted to getting sanctuary in Pakistan-Dr. Ashraf Ghani,Afghanistan President— ANI (@ANI) December 4, 2016
Stop hurling baseless accusations, Aziz tells Ghani
Responding to Ghani’s comments, Aziz said Islamabad was ready to extend every kind of cooperation for lasting peace in Afghanistan, however, he advised Kabul to avoid levelling false and baseless accusations on Pakistan, according to Radio Pakistan.
At the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference Meeting pic.twitter.com/4GUHGrFwXH— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) December 4, 2016
Earlier, Aziz suggested that peaceful resolution to all the longstanding issues was the only way forward for regional cooperation and connectivity. Addressing the summit, the premier’s adviser stressed the need for evolving a joint and purposeful strategy for lasting peace in Afghanistan.
Adviser Sartaj Aziz in talks with Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou on sidelines of HoA Conference pic.twitter.com/lj8993JX0S— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) December 4, 2016
Basit calls for concerted effort against terrorism
Talking to the media on the sidelines of the conference, Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said that instead of leveling allegations against Pakistan, there should be concerted efforts to counter terrorism.
He was responding to Modi and Ghani’s tirade against Pakistan for ‘not containing extremism’.
Aziz, Basit barred from media talk
Meanwhile, Aziz was stopped from speaking to media in his hotel over ‘security reasons’. According to Express News, the adviser then decided to hold a press conference in another hotel but was again denied approval.
Earlier, upon his arrival, the Indian immigration officials reportedly made the foreign adviser wait for at least half an hour at the Amritsar airport.
Meanwhile, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit was also not allowed to speak to media and security officials tried to stop some Pakistani journalists from approaching the diplomat.
“I just want to talk to them… they are Pakistani journalists. Nobody can stop me from meeting Pakistani journalists. That is very clear. These are my people. I can meet them anytime,” a video footage showed Basit as telling the security officials trying to stop journalists from approaching him.
Commenting on the fact that Aziz attended the conference despite India’s 'stiffness', analyst Mosharraf Zaidi said it was “one of the wisest decisions of PM Nawaz Sharif.”
“India’s actions have revealed its true face and that was only possible by making Pakistan’s diplomats attend the conference,” he told Express News.