President Ghani’s indiscretion

Published: February 11, 2019
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A meddlesome tweet by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani is being seen here as unprecedented and clearly crossing a red line.

In a fitting riposte, Islamabad has in a quiet way conveyed to Kabul that the Twitter statement of Ghani, who expressed concerns over what he called ‘violence perpetrated against peaceful protesters…in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan’, can seriously undermine ongoing reconciliation efforts.

Ghani’s tweets commenting on the ongoing protest by Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) triggered a diplomatic row between the two neighbours at a time when Pakistan is facilitating direct negotiations between the United States and the Afghan Taliban.

The Afghan president also wrote in another tweet that he believes “it is the moral responsibility of every government to support civil activities that take a stand against the terrorism and extremism that plagues and threatens our region and collective security.

Otherwise, there could be long-standing negative consequences.” Though he did not name anyone, it was obvious his statement was referring to the PTM’s recent protest.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was quick to issue a strong rejoinder to Ghani’s controversial remarks. ‘We reject the tweet by President Ashraf Ghani. Such irresponsible statements are only gross interference.

The Afghan leadership needs to focus on long-standing serious grievances of the Afghan people.’ National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser also took strong exception to the Afghan president’s tweet, terming it ‘highly irresponsible, outrageous, gross interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan and against the norms of internationally-recognised principles of inter-state relations.’ Ghani’s statement was ‘surprising and unwarranted,’ commented a senior official.

The two countries had covered considerable ground in restoring trust in their relationship. ‘But statements such as the one given by the Afghan president can potentially undo the good work.’ It is indeed in the fitness of things that Kabul’s leadership focus on advancing the peace process with their arch nemesis, the Taliban, rather than vitiating the atmosphere in the neighbourhood through reckless statements.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2019.

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