Pakistan on Thursday promised to extend full cooperation to Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism as it redoubles efforts to defuse tensions triggered by a barrage of deadly attacks in Kabul.
The attacks prompted an outburst of rage in Afghanistan and led President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr Abdullah Abdullah to point fingers at elements in Pakistan while accusing Islamabad of doing little to stop such incidents.
Pakistan also emphasised that the two countries should have trust and faith in each other and that they should “discourage spoilers and detractors who have been trying to create mistrust between the two brotherly countries”.
A high-level delegation, led by Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, arrived in Islamabad on Thursday and held crucial talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to convey his country’s concerns.
Rabbani was accompanied in his six-hour visit by acting defence minister Masoom Stanekzai, National Directorate of Security Director General Rahmatullah Nabil and several other officials.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security & Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry accompanied PM Nawaz during the talks.
According to the official statement, the two sides discussed issues of mutual interest while avoiding contentious issues. However, an official privy to the meeting told The Express Tribune that the Afghan side did convey its concerns over the spate of recent attacks in Kabul and sought cooperation from Pakistan. Ahead of the visit, the Afghan government had said that the delegation was going to Islamabad to urge Pakistan to take tough action against those who had carried out the recent attacks.
The official source said Premier Nawaz assured the Afghan delegation of all-out support but also suggested that implicating Pakistan’s security institutions in the attacks was regrettable.
He said Pakistan reminded Afghanistan that an understanding had been developed whereby neither country would play to the media if either of them had a complaint against the other, but would raise the issue on a bilateral forum.
The Afghan delegation also held a separate meeting with Aziz at the Foreign Office. According to the source, the PM’s adviser informed the delegation that the Pakistani government had serious concerns about Afghan soil being used against Pakistan.
“But we believe in using appropriate channels to convey our concerns instead of going public with allegations,” Aziz was quoted as saying.
He said that levelling allegations would only benefit those who wanted to undermine Pak-Afghan cooperation.
An FO statement said the two sides had candid discussions on Pak-Afghan bilateral relations, evolving political and security situation in Afghanistan, security cooperation between the two countries, and peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
The adviser conveyed Pakistan’s conviction for building a constructive and forward-looking relationship with Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s willingness to work with Afghanistan in overcoming all challenges.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2015.