ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s civil and military leadership on Friday decided to remain engaged with Afghanistan to find a common ground in the fight against terrorism despite the ongoing diatribe by certain elements in Kabul against Islamabad.
The decision to not get deterred by the negative statements emanating from Kabul was taken during the high-level huddle at the Prime Minister Office.
The meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was attended by Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mehmood Hayat, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Sohail Aman, National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua and senior civil and military officials.
The meeting of the top decision-making forum on national security and foreign policy came against the backdrop of recent string of attacks in Kabul and subsequent allegations by Afghan authorities against Pakistan.
On Wednesday, the Afghan interior minister and spy chief visited Islamabad and handed ‘undeniable evidence’ showing the terrorist attacks were planned on the Pakistani soil.
An official handout said, the National Security Committee reviewed the security situation in the region and strongly condemned the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Kabul and observed that the government and people of Pakistan shared the shock, grief and sorrow of their Afghan brethren and stood by their side in complete solidarity.
The committee emphasised that the people of Pakistan understand the pain and anguish of the people of Afghanistan very well since they are themselves the greatest victims of terrorism.
The committee further observed that the reaction of the Afghan government was based on misconceptions created by certain foreign elements.
It expressed the resolve to forge ahead, despite difficulties, with positive engagement with Afghanistan, including the already planned visit of the Pakistani delegation to Kabul on February 3 for discussions on Pakistan’s proposed “Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity”.
Pakistan to look into Afghanistan's 'undeniable evidence'
The committee expressed satisfaction on the progress made with regard to border controls with Afghanistan and noted that the Afghan government should support fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border as being in the interest of both the countries.
It also reviewed the actions taken by the Government of Pakistan and provincial governments to fulfil the country’s international responsibilities under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Framework.
The committee expressed satisfaction over the objectives achieved so far and directed the concerned ministries to complete the few outstanding actions at the earliest.
The committee directed that the achievements made by Pakistan in fulfilling its international obligations should be fully shared with the FATF, and expressed its hope that the FATF will not be politicised by a few countries.
Finally, the National Security Committee reaffirmed Pakistan’s position of continuing to play its role for regional stability and peace.
Earlier, speaking at his weekly news briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal strongly rejected allegations that Pakistan was supporting Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.
“We reject any allegations of support to the Haqqani network or the Taliban and of them to using our soil,” he told reporters hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani claimed that Afghan Taliban were based in Pakistan.
The spokesperson maintained that Pakistan had been taking action against all terrorist groups in its territory.
“It is our commitment to eradicate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” he stressed.
He pointed out that all international reports, including those from the United States, have indicated that vast swathes of territory in Afghanistan was being used by a number of terrorist groups like Da’ish, the TTP, JuA as sanctuary.
“Blaming Pakistan for security lapses inside Afghanistan is unfair, especially when such large spaces and support to these elements is available within the country,” he lamented.
The spokesperson, when asked, confirmed that the Afghanistan had shared information about recent terrorist attacks with Pakistan.
“We will look into it and revert soon. Let me reiterate that there are no sanctuaries or any organised presence of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan,” he emphasised.
Despite the continued allegations from the Afghan side, the spokesperson said during the visit of the Afghan interior minister and spy chief, both sides have agreed to strengthen bilateral engagement and counterterrorism cooperation.
Regarding the current US strategy for Afghanistan, the spokesperson said Pakistan strongly believed that there was no military path to peace in Afghanistan.
“We believe that the real enemy of the Afghan people is the endless cycle of violence. This conclusion is informed by our four decades' experience of facing blow back of instability in Afghanistan,” he pointed out.
“The goal of peace and stability in Afghanistan can be best achieved through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process,” he maintained.
He said it was time for the international community to remember the plight of millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, who had been displaced from their homes due to decades of violence.
“They must return to their homes honourably. More violence in Afghanistan will only delay their dream of uniting with their loved ones,” he said.