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Ghani asks Pakistan for action against Taliban as Kabul bleeds

Pakistan should shut Taliban’s offices; ties with Pakistan depend on security of Afghans; war is declared against Afghans from Pakistan; no soft corner for criminals; peace only with those who are ready to shun violence

By Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: Warning the anti-state elements and their sponsors of dire consequences, President Ashraf Ghani on Monday asked Islamabad categorically to take action against the Afghan insurgents who walk and gather freely without let or hindrance and enjoy safe havens in Pakistan.

Condemning the recent suicide attacks in Kabul City and other parts of the country, President Ghani said that Pakistan should shut offices of the Taliban, eliminate their safe havens, should not treat the injured militants in their hospitals, and bring the killers of Afghans to the court of justice.

President Ghani said that regional and global political players are well-aware of the wholeheartedly efforts of the Afghan government that were aimed to bring stability and peace. He went on to say that decisions taken by Islamabad in the coming weeks would determine future of the Afghan-Pak relations.

“The security of our people and the national interests of Afghanistan lay the basis of our relationship with Pakistan. We can no longer tolerate to see our people bleeding in a war exported and imposed on us from outside. We hoped for peace, but war is declared against us from Pakistani territory; this in fact puts into a display a clear hostility against a neighboring country,” he said.

The president made it clear that Kabul would not approach Islamabad for peace anymore to bring the insurgents to the table of negotiations but would ask Pakistan to take action against the Taliban. He said the time was ripe for Pakistan to use force against Afghan insurgents as it did against Pakistani militants after attack on an army-run school in Peshawar.

He said that if Pakistani government does not do so then the Afghan government got many options available on the table.

“I ask the government and people of Pakistan to imagine that a terrorist attack just like the one in Kabul’s Shah Shahid area took place in Islamabad and the groups behind it had sanctuaries in Afghanistan and ran offices and training centers in our big cities, what would have been your reaction? Will you have looked at us as friends or enemies?” Ghani asked.

He said that Pakistan still serves as a fertile ground for gatherings from where militants send the “messages of war” to the Afghan government.

“The incidents of the past two months in general and the recent days in particular show that the suicide training camps and the bomb making facilities used to target and murder our innocent people still operate, as in the past, in Pakistan. Just as the incident in Peshawar and the killing of hundreds of innocent children in a school became a turning point in Pakistan, the recent incidents in Kabul and other provinces are no less and we call it a turning point for Afghanistan,” the president said.

Regarding the future peace talks strategy, the president said the government would not seek support of a second country to facilitate the reconciliation process, but it would be up to the Afghan authorities now to decide when to start the talks and with whom. He said that those who are ready to shun violence would be made part of the peace talks.

Speaking about his telephonic conversation with Nawaz Sharif, he said: “In my conversation last night with Pakistan’s Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff, I made it clear that the government of Pakistan should have the same definition of terrorism in regard to Afghanistan, just as it has for its own. We made it very clear to the Pakistani side that a new window of opportunity has opened and depending on the capacity and the will of the Pakistani leadership to change the window into a door and then to an alley and even a highway, or shut it all together.”

He said the Afghan government cooperated sincerely with Pakistan in the past 10 months and shared intelligence to target terrorists and end violence in the two countries, but Kabul “waited long” for Islamabad to demonstrate its will through action.

“In my conversation last night, Pakistan Prime Minister pledged to direct his government to chart out an action plan against terrorism and to discuss and decide on its implementation during a trip by an Afghan delegation in the coming Thursday,” he said.

The president said that no concession would be granted to the criminals, and the judiciary has been directed to award exemplary punishment to those who killed Afghans and waged war against Afghanistan.

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