‘Closer cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan important to defeat common enemies’

The closer cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the two South Asian estranged neighbors, is important to defeat common enemies, according to Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations.
 
Maleeha Lodhi, during a debate at the U.N Security Council on Friday, said those elements “working overtime to poison Pakistan-Afghan relations were no friends of Afghanistan”.
 
The peace and reconciliation, she said, has to be between the Afghans themselves and “owned and conducted by Afghans”.
 
Ms. Lodhi strongly dismissed the allegations that the escalating violence in Afghanistan was being driven from Pakistani soil.
 
She said there are many “uncontrolled areas” in Afghanistan from where such attacks are planned and executed against both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
 
She said that Pakistan’s efforts to encourage the Afghan leaders to revive the peace talks with the Afghan government must not be misconstrued as any form of endorsement for their revived violence.
 
Ms. Lodhi said there are two possible paths to ending war and violence: a military victory over the insurgents, or a negotiated peace.
 
The mutual respect for each other’s national interests and sensitivities, she stressed, must be the cornerstone of the future relationship between the two countries.
 
She further said that while external parties could play a role in facilitating Afghan-led peace and reconciliation, they “cannot impose” a solution.
 
The improved ties between the two countries, she said, would pave the ground for the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. 
 
“It will open the way for the ambitious plans for regional development and integration we have jointly worked on,” she was quoted by the sections of Pakistani media.
 
Her remarks came hours after director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major-General Asim Bajwa said that the attack on Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Badaber camp on Friday was “planned and controlled from Afghanistan”.



The relations between the two neighboring countries have again soured in recent months, following a spate of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
 
Last month, a series of suicide bombings rocked Kabul, resulting in unprecedented number of civilian casualties. One of the attacks in Shah Shaheed area of Kabul left more than 300 civilians injured.
 
Stung by what they termed “foreign-backed terrorism”, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah issued strong statements following the carnage.
 
President Ghani asked Islamabad to take strong action against Haqqani Network militants based in Pakistan, who are responsible for majority of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
 
Sartaj Aziz, the national security and foreign affairs advisor of Pakistani prime minister, claimed that the terrorist group has been weakened in Pakistan and is now mostly operating out of Afghanistan.
 
“The infrastructure of the Haqqani Network in north Waziristan, which included IED (improvised explosive device) factories and a number of other facilities including communication (centers) have been destroyed, so what is left here may be very limited compared to the capacity they have in Afghanistan,” he said.
 
President Ashraf Ghani’s office termed Mr. Aziz’s statement “a mere repetition of claims” made by Pakistani authorities for over a decade now.
 
“There is credible evidence that the leadership, command center, support infrastructure and sanctuaries of the Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups are inside the Pakistani territory,” the statement said.
 
Meanwhile, the clamor against Pakistan, which is seen as a safe haven for militant groups, is growing in Afghanistan and across the world.

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