Pakistan pledges “strong support” for Afghan president
KABUL (Pajhwok): Pledging strong support for embattled Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Pakistan’s prime minister’s special assistant Tariq Fatemi has defended intelligence cooperation accord struck recently with Afghanistan, Pakistani media reports Tuesday.
The speech dwelt on the successes and challenges in external relations during the two years of the PML-N government.
He said the intelligence cooperation agreement, which has been derided in Kabul for being against Afghanistan’s interests, would provide a framework for much needed bilateral counterterrorism cooperation.
Referring to mutual distrust and acrimony of the past, Fatemi said: “Heavy burden” of history would continue to impede progress in the relations, but it was encouraging that the leadership of the two countries was headed in the right direction.”
“There is an understanding here in Islamabad and in Kabul to prevent obstacles from tripping us over,” he said.
He said Pakistan-Afghan cooperation was not just about counter-terrorism and security. A number of economic, infrastructure and connectivity projects were also taking shape, which would bear “visible and tangible” fruits.
In reply to a question about perceived political isolation of President Ghani because of Islamabad’s alleged failure to meet its commitments with regard to the Taliban, he clarified that Pakistan had only promised to help with reconciliation.
“We had, and may still have, some influence (with the Taliban). But we can’t pick people and take them to the table and make them sign on the dotted line. We can only play a marginal role. The Afghans will have to be in the driving seat,” he said.
Fatemi said that although there were many who didn’t want the cooperative phase in the relationship to continue, the leadership was committed to making it succeed.
He credited Ghani for the improvement in relations and said his ‘national unity government’ had “injected a welcome dose of realism” and the Afghan president’s visit to Islamabad was instrumental in removing misgivings that had been clouding the ties.
“We’ll do everything possible to strengthen our ties with him and through him with the government of Afghanistan.”
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