Pakistan, Afghanistan spar over peace process
Islamabad: Stung by a top Afghan official`s remarks blaming Pakistan as the main "obstacle" in the peace process with the Taliban, Islamabad on Friday described them as "removed from reality".
Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta today told reporters in the war-torn country that the US "knows Pakistan is the main obstacle to the Afghan government`s peace talks with the Taliban, yet refuses to acknowledge it".
He had also criticised Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan`s advisor on national security and foreign affairs, for interfering in Afghanistan`s internal affairs when he told an audience at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington that the Taliban will probably talk to the new government.
Responding to media queries about Spanta`s "reported remarks", a Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson stressed that Pakistan has steadfastly supported peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
"Pakistan remains firm in its belief that an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process is of central importance for enduring stability. For its part, Pakistan has made concrete efforts to facilitate this process," a statement by the Foreign Office here said.
The spokesperson added that, as recently as January 27, Pakistan and the United States have jointly reiterated their call on the Taliban to join the peace process and enter into dialogue with the Afghan government.
"Similarly, itself a major victim of terrorism, Pakistan has been in the forefront of international efforts to combat extremism and terrorism. Any view purporting to project Pakistan in a contrary light is removed from reality," the spokesperson said.
He stated that Spanta`s "reported comments are both regrettable and out of sync with the constructive spirit in which the leaders of the two countries are engaged to build a positive Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship".
The spokesperson expressed the hope that every effort would be made to maintain a conducive environment for constructive bilateral engagement.
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