Afghanistan, Pakistan envoys engage in war of words before US audience

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Aizaz Chaudhry on Tuesday faced some blunt and tough questions from his Afghan counterpart about Islamabad’s destabilisation and terrorist activities inside Afghanistan. “We call it an undeclared war because the objectives are not set. We don’t know what the objectives are for Pakistan. And that’s something that we have been trying to discover,” Afghan Ambassador to the US Hamdullah Mohib told an audience at an event organised by Indus Think-tank here.

In an unusual aggressive mode, reflecting the new tough approach being adopted by the Afghan government, Mohib said that Kabul is not sure who to talk to in Pakistan. “But which Pakistan? The Pakistan that occupies by a militant group, by a military, or the Pakistan of the civilians?” Mohib asked.

He said the Pakistan government led by the civilians doesn’t have a voice and the reality is that policies are made by the military which uses militancy as a foreign policy. The Afghan diplomat warned that there is a new generation on the rise in the military, the generation that has been trained by former dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq and that is going to take over Pakistan in the next decade or so.

“Once it does, this is no longer going to be a military that’s trying to use extremism as a tool for foreign policy,” he said, adding that it will be an extremist military that is going to be over a million strong, with very sophisticated intelligence, plus nuclear arms.

He said it will take four decades to clear Pakistan from that generation of extremists. “We’re not just worried about today’s militancy…We’re worried about next four decades of our lives…not just us, the world should worry. Every weapon, anything you sell to Pakistan today, will be used against it,” he warned.

The Afghan diplomat said this is a message to the Chinese, a message to America and a message to Europeans. Mohib said the Afghan government is confused. “If we cooperate with the military more, are we emboldening, are we encouraging more of a military Pakistan? Or are we solving our problem because it’s always difficult on who we are talking to that has the authority to resolve the problem?” he asked.

A visibly upset Chaudhry took an exception to the remarks of his Afghan counterpart and alleged that Afghanistan has now resorted to blame game against Pakistan.

“It’s not something new. We have heard for the last one and half years to two years…a mantra along these lines. And much more hostile rhetoric has been voiced. But it has been our view that we would not respond to that hostility…We do not think that blame game would get any country far,” he said.

Stating that it was too easy to say that all the ills of today’s Afghanistan are because of his country, the Pakistani diplomat said that there are a host of issues that pervade Afghanistan, including government issues, corruption issues, weakening of the Afghanistan national security forces issues, graft, production and debt paid issues, and economic issues.

He told the Afghan diplomat that putting the blame on Pakistan would, at best, deflect attention from the real causes of instability in Afghanistan. Chaudhry said Afghanistan needs to focus inward, and see in itself what is it that it needs to do.

“We need to be realistic, instead of hurling blame all the time, as we say, we need a friendship, we need a cooperative spirit,” he said, highlighting a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Chaudhry said the two countries would now be holding consultations to prepare some kind of mechanism to coordinate the actions against terrorist. “These terrorists are nobody’s friend. We would not like to see Taliban come to power by force in Afghanistan. And we have made it very clear that they do not represent Pakistan in any manner. And we are squeezing space on them. Therefore, we would humbly suggest to curb this tendency of scapegoating Pakistan, because that will not solve the issue,” he said.

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