Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, August 26th, 2019

Kabul summons Pakistani Diplomat after Imran Khan’s Controversial Expressions

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Kabul summons Pakistani Diplomat after  Imran Khan’s Controversial Expressions

On Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned a Pakistani diplomat official from the embassy in Kabul in a strong protest over Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s controversial statement about Afghanistan. The foreign minister told the Pakistani diplomat that PM Khan’s remarks were interference in the internal affairs of the country and demanded an explanation to it. The spokesperson of Afghanistan’s foreign ministry Sibghatullah Ahmadi said, “Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Pakistani Counselor for clarification on the recent remarks by PM Imran Khan regarding the establishment of a new government in the near future. The government of Afghanistan expressed its grave objection & deemed such remarks a flagrant interference in its intern affairs”.
Referring to the US-Taliban peace efforts, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had said on Friday that peace in Afghanistan is “around the corner.”  “Negotiations have been initiated with the Taliban. God willing, our brothers in Afghanistan would live together in peace in coming days,” Khan told a big public gathering in northwestern Bajaur tribal district on the Afghan border, quoted by multiple media reports. Without elaborating further, Khan asserted the peace process would result in stability, trade and economic prosperity for the region, and particularly for Afghanistan to enable the war-shattered country stand on its own feet. 
“A good government will be established in Afghanistan, a government where all Afghans will be represented. The war will end and peace will be established there,” Imran Khan added on last Friday.  The remark made after US Department of State termed Taliban talks with the US negotiators as meaningful progress. He said that in the fresh round of talks, the two sides were able to move to agreement in draft on the first two principles. “In this round of talks, we were able to move to agreement in draft on the first two principles, counterterrorism assurances and troop withdrawal.
When the draft agreement finalized, Taliban and an inclusive Afghan negotiating team that includes the Afghan government and other Afghans to begin intra-Afghan negotiation for a political settlement and a comprehensive ceasefire,” he added. Hours after the news broke on Qatar talks, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said in a tweet that he wrapped up a marathon round of talks with Taliban in Doha. Khalilzad said peace requires agreement on four issues: counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire.
Anyway, this is for the second time a Pakistani diplomat has been summoned by Afghanistan in a month. A few weeks ago Afghanistan summoned Zahid Nasrullah, the Pakistani envoy to Afghanistan after he said that Afghan peace talks will be impacted if New Delhi retaliates after the Pulwama terror attack in which India lost 40 CRPF personnel. Afghanistan has also complained to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Islamabad due to its engagement with the Taliban and attempts to subvert the Afghan peace process.
Pakistan government had invited the Taliban for talks along with the US in Islamabad, infuriating Kabul. However, the talks were canceled by the Taliban after the letter by the Afghanistan government to UNSC. The Afghanistan government said, not only they were not consulted before the talks was to take place but the meeting undermines the ongoing peace efforts and violates Afghanistan’s national sovereignty. There has been growing pressure from India, Afghanistan, and Iran on Pakistan to dismantle the terror groups in its territory but Islamabad has always refused the blames.
The summons of Islamabad Diplomat also simultaneous with President Ashraf Ghani’s government frustration about what Kabul regards as Afghanistan being sidelined during talks between Taliban and U.S. negotiators, drawing a rebuke from Washington. Tensions have been building between Kabul and Washington over U.S. efforts to forge a peace pact with the Taliban that includes a U.S. troop withdrawal, something that Kabul fears could weaken its own negotiating position.
Thereupon, Hamdullah Mohib, the National Security Advisor has traveled to United States to present Kabul’s concerns over the unclear peace process but he could not succeed to meet US NSA, John Bolton, owing to having busy schedule. Expressing serious concerns and fears about a process in pursuit of peace, he used unpleasant words during his meeting and interactions within the US. Mohib accused Khalilzad of deliberately withholding information about the talks from the Afghan government. “We think either Zal -- Ambassador Khalilzad -- doesn’t know how to negotiate or in fact there may be other reasons behind what he is doing. What he is doing is not getting a deal that will result in peace in Afghanistan,” as quoted by CBS News.
“The Taliban are not in a mood to negotiate with the Afghan government and there is no reason for them to do so. They’re gaining. Their sole aim, expectation and reasons in wanting to talk directly with the United States are to give themselves legitimacy.” “We don’t know what’s going on. We don’t have the kind of transparency that we should have,” Mohib told reporters at a news conference on Thursday. The Afghan government is not consulted and got the information in bits and pieces,” Mohib added. “Now we would ask the United States to provide clarification on what its long-term strategy and interests are in our country,” he said.  “I think what no one is prepared for any sudden changes to our partnerships that fall outside the boundaries of our guiding documents or that betray all both countries have invested to build over the past two decades.” 

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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