Pakistan accuses Ghani of making irresponsible, baseless claims

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Monday it has conveyed its serious concerns over “irresponsible statements and baseless allegations” made by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last week.

The backlash was sparked by Ghani’s comments to Germany’s weekly news magazine Der Spiegel last week, where he said peace was largely now up to Pakistan, who still harbors the Taliban.

Ghani said: “It is first and foremost a matter of getting Pakistan on board. The US now plays only a minor role. The question of peace or hostility is now in Pakistani hands.”

“The Taliban receive logistics there, their finances are there and recruitment is there. The names of the various decision-making bodies of the Taliban are Quetta Shura, Miramshah Shura and Peshawar Shura – named after the Pakistani cities where they are located. There is a deep relationship with the state.”

But he noted that Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Bajwa assured him on Monday, during his visit to Kabul, that the restoration of a Taliban regime “is not in anybody’s interest in the region, especially Pakistan.”

However, he said, “some of the lower levels in the army still hold the opposite opinion in certain cases. It is primarily a question of political will,” Ghani stated.

Pakistan has not taken the comments lightly and responded by saying such comments can erode trust and damage relations between the two countries.

In a statement issued on its website, the foreign office said Monday: “Pakistan has conveyed its serious concerns to the Afghan side by making a strong demarche with the Ambassador of Afghanistan in Islamabad on the recent irresponsible statements and baseless allegations made by the Afghan leadership.

“Pakistan has emphasized that groundless accusations erode trust and vitiate the environment between the two brotherly countries and disregard constructive role being played by Pakistan in facilitating the Afghan peace process.” the statement read.

The foreign office went on to state that the “Afghan side has been urged to effectively utilize the available forums like Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) to address all bilateral issues.”