Zakhilwal’s assurances

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AFGHAN Ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Omar Zakhilwal has pledged that Kabul will not collude with New Delhi to instigate any harm on Islamabad. Addressing the second round of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Dialogue on “Bilateral Reconciliation: Opportunities and Challenges” jointly organised by the Regional Peace Institute and Royal Danish Defence College in Islamabad on Tuesday, he also added that Pakistan should view Afghanistan’s relations with India in a positive light.
These and some other observations of the Afghan envoy carry weight as they come in the wake of friction between the two countries mainly because of three factors – repeated hurling of allegations by Kabul that Pakistan was shielding anti-Afghan terrorist groups; Pakistan’s complaint that Afghanistan was providing safe havens to anti-Pakistan terror groups and use of Afghan soil by India against Pakistan. Pakistan believes that the issue of cross-border terrorism can effectively be tackled by ensuring better border management but unfortunately the Afghan Government is not only reluctant but also trying to hinder the process. Pakistan has no problem if India contributes to economic development of Afghanistan but it cannot shut its eyes if New Delhi uses Afghan soil for sponsoring terror activities inside Pakistan. We agree to the candid observation of the Ambassador that Afghanistan must ensure its soil is not used by TTP against Pakistan and similarly Pakistan must ensure its soil is not used by the Haqqani network against Afghanistan. He is also right in pinpointing that there was an atmosphere of mistrust and misgiving and that is why both the countries look towards others to bridge their differences. There are a number of available channels that Pakistan and Afghanistan can use to talk to each other and sort out things amicably but it is also a fact that there are some spoilers on both sides. Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has already taken the initiative of establishing contact with his Afghan counterpart and it is hoped the two would agree on a set of measures aimed at reducing tension in bilateral relations. The two countries have to remain where they are geographically and therefore, they have no choice but to improve bilateral relations.