ISLAMABAD Leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan held firm to positions on their troubled ties at a conference on Afghanistan’s future on Wednesday that risked getting overshadowed by a Taliban attack in Afghanistan’s greatest city.
The “Heart of Asia” meeting, an annual gathering of Asian and other nations to pledge support to Afghanistan, comes months following the very first, inconclusive talks among the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Even though the principal concentrate of the two-day meeting in the Pakistani capital, which began on Tuesday, is Afghanistan, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is attending, supplying a likelihood for India and Pakistan to breathe life into efforts to enhance their ties.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also attending and he named on Tuesday for Pakistan to use its influence with the Afghan Taliban to push for Afghan reconciliation.
But slim hopes for a resumption of Afghan talks had been underlined by a Taliban raid on the airport in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar which began on Tuesday evening.
Fighting among the militants and Afghan safety forces was continuing on Wednesday and at least 18 individuals had been killed, Afghan officials stated.
Cooperation amongst Afghanistan and Pakistan is noticed as crucial for Afghan peace but hopes for warmer ties soon after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated final year were quickly dashed, largely due to the fact of a series of bomb attacks in Kabul.
Ghani told the conference “enemies” had unsuccessfully tried to divide Afghanistan but they had been foiled. He blamed “regional and international terror groups” for the violence in his nation.
“In the previous, there has been the temptation to use non-state actors as instruments of foreign policy,” he added, in a clear reference to Afghan assertions that Pakistan supports the Taliban to maintain influence in Afghanistan.
Pakistan denies that.
“I have had to turn into a war president, since an all-out war has been imposed on us,” Ghani mentioned.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stressed his commitment to “an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation procedure”, a reference to the talks amongst the Afghan government and the Taliban, hosted by Pakistan, that foundered after one round in July.
The negotiations had been derailed following news leaked that Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar had been dead for two years. Omar’s deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, took more than as leader but violent splits subsequently emerged in the militant group.
Sharif also spoke of Pakistan’s aim to repatriate the 2 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, some of whom have been in Pakistan for decades.
“The massive cross-border movement of refugees constitutes a safety risk,” Sharif stated.
In response, Ghani pointed out that an offensive by the Pakistani military against Pakistani Taliban has sent an influx of Pakistanis into Afghanistan.
“Unfortunately, current events in Pakistan have forced us to host 350,000 to 500,000 refugees from Pakistan … the refugee concern is a common problem, like all troubles,” Ghani mentioned.
But leaders will be mindful of their domestic audiences and will want to look resolute.
Afghanistan and Pakistan accuse every single other of supporting Taliban insurgencies across their border. The two insurgencies are separate but allied.
(Writing by Katharine Houreld Editing by Robert Birsel)