United Nations, Dec 1 (IANS) Calling 2015 the bloodiest year since 2001, Afghanistan has lashed out against Pakistan accusing it of unleashing terrorists as “violent proxies” because of its anxiety over Kabul’s relations with India.
“External support to the Taliban and other terrorist groups is primarily motivated by regional rivalry, with excessive and unnecessary anxiety and suspicion of one state over its rival’s otherwise ordinary relations with Afghanistan,” Kabul’s Permanent Representative Mahmoud Saikal told the UN General Assembly Monday during a debate on the situation in his country.
“This has resulted in an unsavory policy of using violent proxies in pursuit of political objectives, which has created a significant trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan and provides oxygen for terror to breathe,” he added.
The hard-hitting speech diplomatically avoided directly mentioning India, but the phrasing, “suspicion of one state over its rival’s otherwise ordinary relations with Afghanistan,” left no doubt that it was a reference to India-Afghanistan ties.
This was probably the first time Kabul raised before the international forum Pakistan’s motives for backing Taliban and other terrorist organisations.
“We appeal to Pakistan to increase direct bilateral contacts with Afghanistan away from lens of tension with other states,” Saikal said.
Amid rising tensions between the two neighbors, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi said it was “important for the anti-Pakistan rhetoric from Kabul to cease”.
Saikal, who took over as Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative in October, recalled short-lived capture of Kunduz by terrorists managed by “foreign orchestrators”.
He said, “We have come under high levels of attacks from foreign-based Taliban. including the Haqqani network, Al-Qaida, ISIS (Daeish), Hekmatyar’s faction, and other extremist groups.” These were facilitated by Pakistan allowing international terrorists to enter Afghanistan and by Islamabad’s failure to coordinate counter-terrorism actions with Kabul, he added.
In addition to the terrorist attacks, Saikal said, Afghanistan also had to contend with regular attacks by Pakistani security forces across the Durand Line, a disputed border demarcation. “As a result of heavy artillery shelling in the eastern provinces, many civilian and border police lives have been lost, and our citizens live in fear,” he said.
Although Afghanistan has raised with Pakistan the attacks carried out “in violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity”, he said “no action has been taken to rectify the situation”.
When President Ashraf Ghani assumed office last year, he initially tried to build bridges to Pakistan and China while cooling ties with India, hoping it would make Islamabad curb the terrorists.
However, the strategy has failed and the situation has been compounded by the discovery that Islamabad had hidden from Kabul the fact that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was dead even as it tried to encourage negotiations with the dead man’s representatives.
Saikal recounted the overtures Kabul had made to Islamabad and the talks with Omar’s representatives in Murree, the hill resort near Islamabad, Pakistan capital.
“Soon it was realized that we were negotiating with the representatives of a leader who had died two years earlier in a hospital in Karachi,” Saikal said, still smarting from the deceit. “So, as you can see, there has been a lack of reciprocity to our trust building initiatives.”
Lodhi glossed over Islamabad hiding Omar’s death, saying it had acted in good faith. “Pakistan remains ready to assist in reviving an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process,” she said.
She warned of the danger of the emergence of the Islamic State in Afghanistan and said that only a negotiated peace and national reconciliation could prevent it. “A unified policy in support of a peace process is lacking within the Afghan National Unity government,” she said.
Lodhi also asserted that Afghanistan has not cooperated with Pakistan in countering terrorists who fled its anti-terrorism campaigns into Afghanistan. They were attacking its security forces from across the border.