KABUL - The Afghan government will consider all matters of national interest in signing a strategic agreement with Pakistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Monday.
Deputy spokesman Faramarz Tamana responded in a press conference to criticism towards the government over the planned deal, saying it was aware of the ongoing problems in the Pakistan relationship.
"Afghanistan will seriously consider all the national interests in the agreement with Pakistan," Tamana said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari discussed plans of a possible strategic agreement by the end of 2013 while both were in New York at the United Nations General Assembly about 10 days ago.
The news was broadly panned by Afghan experts and lawmakers who accused Pakistan of not implementing previous agreements and not doing enough to combat incursions into Afghanistan, including an apparent military cross-border shelling into eastern Afghan regions.
Kabul University professor Taher Mohammad Hashimi said Monday that the government of Afghanistan should be cautious in signing any agreement with Pakistan which has failed in the past to fulfill pacts.
"Since the inauguration of Pakistan, the country has shown no interest and transparency in their previous agreements. The Afghan government should be extremely cautious," Hashimi told TOLOnews, pointing to the transit agreement of last year.
"The transit agreement signed between the two countries last year allows the traders of both sides to use all the transit ports and pass through countries with no issues, however the Afghan traders are still facing major challenges with Pakistan," he said.
Pakistan's cross-border shelling into Afghanistan's eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Nuristan and Kunar as well as the refugee issues, and the existence insurgent safe havens have negatively impacted on relations between the two countries.
Analysts and lawmakers have said that unless all these issues and conflicts are tackled, signing a strategic agreement will be meaningless. (Tolo News)