Kabul scraps joint drills with Pakistan army
KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan on Wednesday announced the cancellation of a scheduled visit of a team of army officers to Pakistan for joint military drills -- a setback for nascent defence ties between the bickering neighbours.
On Jan. 28, Defence Minister Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi met Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in the garrison town of Rawalpindi. Both sides agreed on closer defence links -- after long-running testy exchanges on security issues.
During Mohammadi’s five-day trip, the Pakistan Army offered to train Afghan security forces in a move toward overcoming the bilateral trust deficit. While holding out the offer, Gen. Kayani promised to help stabilise Afghanistan.
In addition to promising scholarships for Afghan army officers, Islamabad agreed with Kabul on holding a joint simulation military exercise and headquarters drills at the Quetta Staff College in southwestern Balochistan province.
An 11-member team of Afghan National Army (ANA) officers was scheduled to travel to Quetta at the invitation of the Pakistani military to take part in the joint drills.
“This visit will no longer take place due to the resumption of unacceptable Pakistani artillery shelling against different parts of Kunar province from across the Durand Line on Monday and Tuesday,” the foreign ministry in Kabul said.
On March 24, Kunar Governor Syed Fazlullah Wahidi claimed the Pakistan army had fired a new barrage of missile into the Dangam district of the eastern province. He told Pajhwok Afghan News 27 that missiles had landed in Zor Barol, Kachli and Soor Kamar areas of the district.
Earlier in the week, Afghan officials and political observers rejected as baseless assertions by Pakistan's foreign ministry officials that Islamabad was finding it difficult to work with President Hamid Karzai in making peace with rebels.
"Right now, Karzai is the biggest impediment to the peace process," a top Foreign Ministry official in Islamabad told Reuters news agency. "In trying to look like a savior, he is taking Afghanistan straight to hell."
He said Karzai, seeking peace on his own terms, was also worried that the United States might cut a quick and risky deal with the Taliban in order to get the bulk of its forces out of Afghanistan by the end of next year.
But Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Musazai spurned the allegations as baseless and said Kabul strongly condemned them. He insisted Karzai believed in peace and had struggled over the past many years to achieve that goal.
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