Pakistan, Afghanistan should shun suspicion to build new relationship: Afghan peace official

Islamabad, PakistanUpdated: Sep 29, 2020, 08:37 PM IST


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Abdullah, who arrived in Pakistan on Monday on a three-day visit, also said that the time has come to put the past behind and build a new relationship.

Pakistan and Afghanistan should shun the suspicion and go beyond the usual "stale rhetoric" and "shadowy conspiracy theories" that have held them back, senior Afghan peace official Dr Abdullah Abdullah said on Tuesday.

Abdullah, who arrived in Pakistan on Monday on a three-day visit, also said that the time has come to put the past behind and build a new relationship.

"I am a firm believer that after many troubling years, we now need to go beyond the usual stale rhetoric and shadowy conspiracy theories that have held us back,? Abdullah, who heads the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, said at an event organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad.

Abdullah highlighted the role played by Pakistan in facilitating the Afghan peace process and said that terror groups were still acting as "spoilers".

"We cannot afford to pursue business as usual. We need fresh approaches and our people demand it. It is more urgent than ever to look to our region as one region," he said.

He also said that Afghanistan would not allow any terror entity to pose a threat to any other nation.

Pakistan has come under international criticism for its support for some militant groups and opposition to others. While Pakistan's military and politicians say that policy has been relegated to the past, Islamabad's neighbours remain suspicious.

Afghanistan and the US have in the past blamed Pakistan for providing safe havens to elements of the terror network, a charge Islamabad denies.

In its 26th report, the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIS, al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities earlier this year said that an estimated 6,000-6,500 Pakistani terrorists are in Afghanistan, most of them with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, posing a threat to both the countries.

Talking about the peace process, Abdullah said that it was an important opportunity to bring peace and rebuild the war-torn Afghanistan and his team of negotiators would be patient in talks with the Taliban.

Abdullah talked about common threats and challenges, including terrorism, extremism, intolerance and COVID-19 and urged to tap untapped potential for cooperation between his country and Pakistan. He also thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees.

Addressing the gathering, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi assured Afghanistan that his country had no "favourites" in the peace process as Islamabad followed the policy of "friends not masters".

"I want to give a clear message: We have no favourites [and] do not want to meddle in your internal affairs. We respect and want to respect your sovereignty, your independence and your territorial integrity," he said.

The foreign minister said that peace and security in Pakistan was linked with the stability in Afghanistan.

He said that the Afghan leaders should create a consensus through talks about the future of their country and "whatever consensus evolves through your dialogue and negotiations, we will accept it."

"There will always be spoilers but the overwhelming majority feels that this is the right way forward and that is a positive development,? he said.

He also warned of looming hurdles on the way to peace but said that it was the only way and would open avenues for trade and investment between the two countries.

It was Abdullah's first visit in 12 years. He will meet the president, prime minister and the army chief during his three-day stay in Pakistan.