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Pakistan braces for 'tough talks' as army chief Qamar Bajwa plans Afghan visit

Pakistan is bracing itself for tough talk with Afghanistan in coming weeks as its army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa prepares to travel to Kabul at the invitation by President Ashraf Ghani for serious talks.
India TV News Desk Islamabad January 23, 2017 22:50 IST
India TV News Desk

Pakistan is bracing itself for ‘tough talk’ with Afghanistan in coming weeks as its army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa prepares to travel to Kabul at the invitation by President Ashraf Ghani for “serious talks”.

Bajwa, who has accepted Ghani’s invitation ‘in principle’, is yet to decide on a date to visit Afghanistan as the neighbours try to mend relationship.

According to a report by The Express Tribune, a senior security official said Bajwa plans to visit Kabul after US President Donald Trump’s administration announces its policy on the Afghan situation.

The Pak Army chief, whenever he visits Afghanistan, plans to tell its leadership in a ‘clear message’ to “stop blaming Pakistan for your own failings”.

Kabul has often blamed Pakistan of providing sanctuaries to terror groups including Taliban that target Afghanistan.

During his visit, Bajwa is expected to tell Afghan leadership in categorical terms that “Pakistan is not patronising any group or providing them sanctuaries,” an official said.

To counter Afghanistan, he would present ‘compelling evidence’ of how some elements within the Afghan government are supporting terrorist groups that are launching attacks in Pakistan.

Qamar, after taking over as army chief in November last year, has made several attempts to reach out to Afghanistan and has spoken to President Ghani twice in less than two weeks.

In his latest call to Ghani, made after a series of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, he offered Pakistan’s assistance in dealing with the common challenge while condemning the violence.

Ghani, however, stuck to allegations and insisted that his country now wanted ‘serious talks’ with Pakistan on the future of ties between the two countries.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria on Thursday said that the Islamabad, as the most sincere friend and well-wisher of the Afghan people, had contributed to the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, whenever requested.

“Pakistan has the highest stakes in peace and stability in Afghanistan. No country gets affected more than Pakistan due to instability in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan is, therefore, beyond any doubt,” Zakaria said while rejecting the Afghan allegations.

Pakistan, before making its next move, is waiting for new US administration to clarify its Afghan policy while hoping that it would take a more ‘realistic view’ of the situation in the country.

In a meeting with US Commander General Joseph L Votel, where Bajwa discussed Afghan-Pak relations last week, he said the blame game is detrimental to enduring peace and stability, in a reference to Kabul blaming Pakistan for recent terror attacks.

In a statement issued after terror attacks in Kabul, Kandahar and Helmand in which at least 60 people, including five UAE diplomats, were killed, Afghan presidential palace had said, “Perpetrators who planned the attack are living in Pakistan and they conduct their activities there freely and no action so far had been taken against them."