Taliban can’t last a month sans Pakistan’s support, says Afghan president Ashraf Ghani

ghani-in-bruss-conf-615x3002xPresident Ashraf Ghani on Sunday blast Pakistan for exporting terror and providing safe hideouts to the militants. In his address at the 6th annual conference of Heart of Asia in India, Ghani said that the Taliban insurgency would not survive a month if it lost its sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan, urging its neighbor to take on militant groups on its soil instead of giving Kabul financial aid.

He believed the $500 million promised by Pakistan for Afghanistan’s reconstruction could be better utilized combating terrorism.

In a blunt rebuke to Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, who is also in the event, the president said: “This amount, Mr. Aziz, can be spent on containing extremism?”

Moreover, Ghani, who severely criticized Islamabad, said an Asian or international mechanism must be put in place, without “playing games”,to find out who was benefiting from terror, extremism and other illicit activities.

He said time has come for concrete action against terror infrastructure and those support it, and quoted a top Taliban commander saying “unless terror sanctuaries were allowed in Pakistan, the outfit will not last even a month”.

He said despite Afghanistan’s bilateral and multilateral ties with Pakistan, the “undeclared war” that started in winter of 2014, has intensified after the recent Brussels conference on Afghanistan’s transition.

Slamming Pakistan’s habit of denying cross border terror attacks, the Afghan President called for setting up of international mechanism to verify reality of such attacks which have increased in the last few months.

He also sought setting up of a global fund to contain terrorism.“There should be an Asian or international regime, whatever is acceptable to Pakistan, should be put in place to verify frontier activities and terrorist operations.”

“We do not want blame game, we want verification,” he said, without mincing words.“We need to set up a fund to combat extremism,” Ghani said.

The Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar, Punjab has begun on Sunday as leaders from 40 countries gather to attend the annual event. Issues concerning the region including terrorism threat, security scenario and extremism was discussed by senior officials of all 14 member countries and representatives of 17 supporting nations.

The two-day conference’s major focus is on helping Afghanistan during its transition phase by finalizing a counter-terror framework and working on ways to bring back peace to the war-torn country.

President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated the conference.

“Growing terrorist violence endangers our entire region. As such, support for voices of peace in Afghanistan alone is not enough,” said Modi at the sixth ministerial conference in the northern Indian city of Amritsar in the presence of President Ashraf Ghani.

Furthermore he said, the Heart of Asia Conference is reaffirmed the commitment of the international community to durable peace and lasting political stability in Afghanistan, facing the gravest threat from terrorism and externally induced instability.

Pledges of support must be backed by resolute action, not just against forces of terrorism, but also against those who supported, sheltered, trained and financed them, the premier remarked, saying bilateral and regional commitments of material assistance for Afghanistan’s development must increase.

He said help to Afghanistan was focused on building and strengthening its social, political and institutional fabric, securing its territory and citizens from external threats, spurring its economic development and stitching a prosperous future for its people.

“Indeed, this is also the intent of this conference, aptly captured in its theme, Addressing challenges; Achieving prosperity’,” observed Modi. “We have no doubt about the scale of the challenge. But, we are equally determined to succeed.”Modi said the results of collective efforts thus far had been mixed.

Important successes had been achieved, but more had to be done, he noted, saying gains of the last 15 years must be preserved. “Because, at stake is not just the future of Afghanistan, but the peace and stability of this entire region and beyond.”

“Afghanistan should be at the center of our connectivity networks, not peripheral to them. On our part, we see Afghanistan as the hub for strengthening links of connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia.

“We cannot deny that the more connected Afghanistan is with the regional arteries of trade, capital and markets, the more assured would be its economic growth and progress. President Ghani and I have converged on the priority of strengthening trade and transport linkages with other partners in the region,” said Modi.

“President Ghani and I have discussed additional measures for deepening our bilateral cooperation. We are making progress in developing plans for utilization of the additional 1 billion US Dollar earmarked by India for capacity and capability building in Afghanistan,” he said.

Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz was among representatives of 30 countries who attended the conference and said, “Peaceful resolution to all the longstanding issues is the only way forward for regional cooperation and connectivity.”

Addressing Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar on Sunday, he stressed the need for evolving a joint and purposeful strategy for lasting peace in Afghanistan.

The Adviser said Pakistan is ready to extend every kind of cooperation for lasting peace in Afghanistan. He said Afghanistan should avoid levelling false and baseless accusations on Pakistan.

Furthermore, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif emphasized the importance of improving security in Afghanistan, saying that security and stability is a key to ensuring prosperity in the war-hit country and the region.

“A secure and stable Afghanistan is vital to the prosperity of the Heart of Asia region,” Zarif said Sunday at the 6th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia Process underway in India’s northern city of Amritsar, according to Tasnim dispatches.

Expressing the Islamic Republic’s readiness to help restore peace in Afghanistan, he said, “We continue to fully support the National Unity Government and we stand ready to work with its leaders to help them discharge their responsibilities.”

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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