Meets Ghani, Abdullah: Gen Raheel offers to train Afghan security forces

Army chief conveys Pakistan’s concern over alleged TTP sanctuaries in Kunar, Nuristan

Tahir Khan/kamran Yousaf November 07, 2014


Pakistan has offered to train Afghanistan’s security forces in the latest push to improve cooperation with its key neighbour, with whom its relationship has often been marred by a deepening trust deficit.

The offer was made by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif who on Thursday travelled to Kabul to discuss a host of issues, including the post-2014 scenario, with new Afghan leadership.

The army chief, who was accompanied by other senior military officials, held separate talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr Abdullah Abdullah during what was his maiden visit to the country.

During the series of meetings, Gen Raheel offered the ‘full range’ of training courses and facilities in Pakistan’s training institutions to Afghan security forces. “The COAS also offered the capacity enhancement of an infantry brigade, including provision of equipment,” the ISPR statement said.

This is not the first time Pakistan has made such an offer. Previous Pakistani offers were rejected by Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s reluctance to accept Pakistan’s offer of military training for its forces stems from the fear that the country’s security establishment was still supporting certain Afghan insurgent groups.

Pakistan, however, has always denied the charge and insisted that its ongoing operation in North Waziristan Agency is a clear manifestation of its resolve to act against all terrorist groups without any discrimination.

A senior military official who accompanied the army chief to Kabul told The Express Tribune that there was a ‘visible change’ in Afghanistan’s attitude towards Pakistan following the formation of the new unity government.

“There is a huge basis for being positive. We had very constructive and fruitful discussions with the new Afghan leadership,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

During the meeting with Afghan President, ISPR said Gen Raheel congratulated Ashraf Ghani and expressed the hope that the election of the new government in Afghanistan would prove to be a   historic opportunity to transform Pak-Afghan relations into a ‘warm and mutually beneficial’ relationship.

He reiterated that peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s best interest and the only way to ensure regional security was to treat terrorism ‘as our common enemy’.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told the army chief that good relations with Pakistan are in line with Afghanistan’s strategic interests.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan should sincerely and jointly act against the common enemy and cooperate for the establishment of peace and stability in both countries and bilateral economic cooperation,” the presidential palace quoted Ghani as saying in the meeting with the army chief.

“Both countries should strengthen at the government-to-government level and also between the institutions,” he said.

General Raheel Shariif, who the presidential statement said visited Kabul as the representative of the state, said Pakistan wants to “open a new chapter” in relations with Afghanistan

Gen Raheel was also briefed by Afghan military officials about the latest security situation in Afghanistan.

The transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces in the wake of US and ISAF drawdown and enhanced bilateralism between Pakistan-Afghanistan with particular emphasis on Pak-Afghan border coordination mechanism, intelligence sharing and transparency were deliberated upon.

The army chief raised the issue of alleged terrorist sanctuaries of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Kunar and Nuristan provinces. Pakistan military recently expressed its disappointment over lack of cooperation from Afghan authorities to deal with militant groups following Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan.

A tweet by ISPR Director General Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said Gen Raheel’s meeting with the Afghan president concluded with a “great deal of goodwill and positivity.”

Both sides agreed that the President Ghani will pay a state visit to Islamabad this month on the invitation by the Pakistani government.

The Afghan Defence Minister Bismellah Mohammadi, while referring to a proposal for joint military exercises, said a decision is likely to be taken next week. He said officials of the two sides are likely to reach an agreement on joint exercises.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2014.


Ayccer | 9 years ago | Reply

A step in the right direction not only benefitical for Pakistan but also Afghanistan, both countries have a common enemy which should be the foundation of the Afpak relations.

Stewart J | 9 years ago | Reply

Is that "offer to train" meant to be serious?

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