Ghani’s statement was meant to please New Delhi
Islamabad—Hours after attending the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar, Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Sunday that India’s efforts to divide Afghanistan and Pakistan will not go far as “we are next-door neighbours”.
“We don’t need any pressure on counter terrorism because we have done more than any other country to eliminate it,” he told reporters in Islamabad. “Our relations with Afghanistan stand independently… there is a lot interaction because we are next-door neighbours…India’s efforts to divide us will not go very far.”
Sartaj Aziz said that the statement of Ashraf Ghani was incomprehensible and condemnable. He further revealed that Ashraf Ghani’s statements were meant to please India.
Aziz said Afghanistan’s comments against Pakistan were regrettable but understandable because of the intensity of insurgency in war-torn country. “There is certain amount of anxiety which tells us why such comments came about,” he said.
Pakistan cannot control the terrorists without proper border management as there is always unchecked movement across the border, he added. “Afghanistan will have to do on their side as well as we cannot control people from operating inside Afghanistan.”
Justifying his participation in the conference, the adviser said: “We don’t let the bi-lateral issues mix up with multi-lateral matters.”
Aziz said he met many officials and leaders on the sidelines of the conference, including foreign ministers of Iran, Turkmenistan and China, as well as Indian NSA Ajit Doval.
Sartaj Aziz said that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s statement against Pakistan deserved condemnation.
“Placing blame and making allegations against any country does not eliminate terrorism,” said Sartaj Aziz.
He said that during his meeting with the Afghan President, he had assured him of Pakistan’s full cooperation and tried to highlight the importance of ensuring the functioning of an effective monitoring system at the border.
“Despite effective border management, peace cannot prevail in both countries,” said Aziz.
Sartaj said that it was a good decision to attend the Heart of Asia conference despite the ongoing tensions with arch-rivals India.
“Everyone whom I met at the Heart of Asia conference appreciated us attending the conference despite the situation across the Line of Control,” he said.
Sartaj Aziz said that security arrangements in India were quite strange since they were not allowed to meet or speak with anyone.
“The Indian security officer would not allow us to meet anyone at the hotel,” he said.
He said that the Indian representatives tried not to have the issue of Kashmir discussed at the conference.
Earlier, advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Sunday that concerted action is needed for peaceful resolution of regional conflicts and “blame games” will not help toward achieving peace. Sartaj Aziz said that despite India’s aggressive behaviour on Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary, Pakistan is attending the Heart of Asia conference. He said peaceful resolution to all the longstanding issues is the only way forward for regional cooperation and connectivity.
Addressing the Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar city of Indian Punjab province 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 leveling false and baseless accusations on Pakistan.
He said Pakistan had laid down the foundations of Heart of Asia Conference with the collaboration of Turkey some six years ago.
Sartaj Aziz said that instead of leveling allegations concentration should be on positive actions. “My participation in the event, despite escalation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary with India, is testimony to Pakistan’s unflinching commitment for lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region. I look forward to meaningful deliberations today towards this objective,” he said.
“The postponement of the SAARC Summit scheduled in Islamabad in November 2016 was a setback to these efforts and undermined the spirit of regional cooperation,” he added.
Commenting on the peace efforts between Afghan government and Taliban, he said, “Pakistan has been making serious efforts for facilitating the peace talks through the QCG. “We believe that all members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) should continue their efforts for talks between Afghan government and Taliban. In our view, there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict and all our efforts should be to achieve a politically negotiated settlement through an Afghan-led Afghan-owned process.”
Sartaj Aziz also talked about the infrastructure plans and projects Pakistan has to meet growing regional transport needs. “Focus is on modern, state of the art infrastructure including through China Pakistan Economic Corridor,” he said. Aziz said peaceful resolution of unresolved conflicts would boost regional cooperation and communication.
Eluding to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s allegations that Pakistan was giving “sanctuary” to terrorists, Aziz said concerted policy and action, not blame games, are needed to establish peace in Afghanistan. Such blame games will not bring peace to Afghanistan, he said.
Meanwhile, Sartaj Aziz held a meeting with Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar.
Matters pertaining to durable peace and stability in Afghanistan were discussed during the meeting.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz also held a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister, on the side lines of Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar on Sunday. They exchanged views on matters of bilateral and regional interest.
Meanwhile Russia says leveling allegations against Pakistan is inappropriate.
Addressing the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar on Sunday, Russian representative said that Sartaj Aziz’s speech at the conference was friendly and constructive.
The representative said that Afghanistan is pivot of Heart of Asia conference and the agenda of the conference has not been hijacked. He said being friends and supporters we should avoid the blame game and work together.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined hands Sunday to lash out at Pakistan on terrorism as the subject took centre stage at the sixth Heart of Asia ministerial conference on Sunday in Amritsar.
President Ashraf Ghani snubbed Pakistan for exporting terror by saying that the $500 million promised by Islamabad for Afghan reconstruction would be better used fighting terrorism. “We need to identify cross-border terrorism and a fund to combat terrorism. Pakistan has pledged 500 million dollars for Afghanistan’s development. This amount, Mr. Aziz, can be spent to contain extremism,” Ghani said, directly addressing Sartaj Aziz.
“Afghanistan suffered the highest number of casualties last year. This is unacceptable, some still provide sanctuary for terrorists. As a Taliban figure said recently if they had no sanctuary in Pakistan, they wouldn’t last a month,” Ghani said.
“I don’t want a blame game, I want clarifications” on what is being done to prevent the export of terror, Ghani added.
I don’t want a blame game, I want clarifications on what is being done to prevent the export of terror,” Ghani said.
“India’s support to Afghanistan is aimed at improving people’s life and transparent with no strings attached. PM Modi, your words assure Afghan people of support of 1.25 billion Indian people.