The former foreign affairs minister of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar has said Pakistan should change course in neighboring Afghanistan, a recommendation which comes amid deteriorating relations between Kabul and Islamabad, mainly due to war against terrorism.
In an interview with Gandhara/RFERL, Khar urged urged Islamabad to revive their administration’s foreign policy approach of maintaining good relations with neighboring countries.
In response to a question regarding Kabul’s stance against Pakistan, accusing it for harboring the Afghan militant groups, Khar said “That is the most disheartening thing to see. It causes me personal grief because we had literally poised Pakistan within the region. When I was foreign minister, we tried to concentrate on relations closer to home. And I, as well as my prime minister at that time, have categorically said that Kabul is the most important capital for Pakistan. We invested a great deal of energy and effort to make Kabul as the most important capital for us. As foreign minister of Pakistan, I visited Kabul three times in two years. In contrast, I visited Washington only once. It was because we thought Kabul is more important.”
Khar further added “What this government has been able to do is let the opportunity that came with President Ashraf Ghani go by. We lost that window of opportunity that opened when Ghani came into power. He gave Pakistan a pretty reasonable deal. He offered pretty much everything that Pakistan was asking for. I do not know the internal dynamics of the current government to be able to say what they should do to make amends, but I can say for sure that this government has not been able to sustain its relationship with Afghanistan, India, and Iran.”
The remarks by Khar came as President Ghani once again slammed Pakistan for its reluctance to take actions against the Afghan militant groups using its soil.
President Ghani said during his speech at the 6th Heart of Asia conference on Sunday that “Despite our intense engagement with Pakistan on bilateral and multilateral basis, the undeclared war – the name that I gave to the phenomenon in the winter 2014 – not only has not abated but also intensified during 2016, with special intensity right after the Brussels Conference.”
Citing a Taliban commander’s remarks about Pakistan, President Ghani said “As Mr. Kakazada, one of the key figures in the Taliban movement recently said, if they did not have sanctuary in Pakistan, they would not last a month.”
President Ghani insisted on the need for intense dialogue and engagement to resolve the issue, including fight against criminal economics, and an Asian and international regime, whatever acceptable, particularly, to Pakistan to verify cross-frontier activities and terrorist operations.
He also added “Thirdly, there is need for a fund to combat extremism. Pakistan has generously pledged 500 million dollars for reconstruction of Afghanistan. This fund, Mr. Aziz, could very well be used for containing extremism because without peace any amount of assistance will not meet the needs of our people. We have been balancing the opportunities and the threats. I am confident that focused, deliberate and systematic efforts can enable us to win a world and to make Afghanistan and Asia secure. Once again, thank you for your attention. -KP
THE PASHTUN TIMES