Pakistan assures Afghanistan of not indulging in `double play`

Afghanistan on Tuesday said Pakistan has assured it of not indulging in "double play" while firmly committing to non-interference in the country`s internal affairs.

New Delhi/Islamabad: Afghanistan on Tuesday said Pakistan has assured it of not indulging in "double play" while firmly committing to non-interference in the country`s internal affairs.

Afghan Ambassador to India M Shaida Abdali here said President Hamid Karzai has asked Pakistan to join hands in countering the "dark forces of terrorism" that continue to undermine the security of Afghanistan and Pakistan alike.

He said that during the visit of Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif`s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs, to Kabul last month, Karzai also called for joint efforts against terrorism and asked Pakistan to use their "acknowledged influence" over Taliban to facilitate a stalled-peace process.

"We are encouraged also by the recent remarks of Mr Aziz, before Pakistan Senate`s standing committee on foreign affairs where he announced that Islamabad has abandoned the policy of double play towards Afghanistan," Abdali said.

"He (Aziz) noted that they had firmly committed to non-interference in the Afghan sphere for facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process," the Afghan Ambassador said at a talk `Afghanistan in Transition: The Way Forward` organised by the Observer Research Foundation.

"We are now looking forward to further practical steps to be taken by the new government in Pakistan, which should demonstrate a resolve against forces that still choose war environment over peace and prosperity in the region," Abdali said.

Ties between the two countries nosedived after Pakistan and the US supported a Taliban office that opened in Doha in June to foster talks. Karzai was infuriated by the opening of the Taliban office, considered a precursor towards talks with US officials.

Afghanistan has often accused Pakistani elements of aiding the Afghan Taliban.

"No one can afford continuity, the lessons have been learnt and this is what we have been saying in the last ten years that it is to no one`s use to turn a blind eye to the menace that is targeting the security of a neighbour," Abdali said.

"It is true that we had issues in the past. It is true
that harsh realities existed which were in the form of keeping insurgents for use against a neighbour...There has been an acknowledgement of double play and that the double play will not be the case in the future," he said.

Lets hope we see practical application of these statements to ensure a positive outcomes, the Afghan Ambassador said.

Abdali lauded India`s efforts in Afghanistan, saying, "The two countries share commitment-enhancing, economic cooperation and integration".

He said the two visits by Karzai to India represented the "deep, multi-faceted" ties between the two governments.

"Last May we reviewed the progress made in Afghanistan-India partnership agreement for assisting in Afghanistan`s immediate and long-term needs," he said.

"I must highlight with gratitude the fact that India has no Afghanistan exit strategy, realising the inseparable bond of deep friendship and strategic partnership between the two countries," Abdali said.

"In the coming years we are expecting more Indian involvement in the form of increased assistance for Afghanistan. Such Indian aid would not only bolster security in Afghanistan but also ensure regional stability," he said.

Abdali called for Afghanistan, India and Pakistan to work together "hand in hand" for peace and stability in the region.

Abdali said that the key countries in the heart of Asia must identify the spoilers in the region and hold them accountable. He said spoilers such as entities, including states, and their proxies remain a factor in the destabilisation of Afghanistan.

"For the past 12 years various ways have been used to encourage these spoilers to cooperate, to do what is right for themselves and the environment surrounding them. But there response and position has grown more and more negative. Even though such a reaction has proven counterproductive to their own, narrow self interest," he said.

Abdali said that the agreement on drawdown of US-led NATO forces was being worked out and the fact that there was negotiation going on it indicated that the option was `zero troops` was not being considered.

Abdali also spoke about the Afghan peace process and
said "the transition process should be irreversible and sustainable". He said that there were three components of the Afghan peace process, the first he said is the security component of the peace process.

"Our strong 352,000 forces have taken over the responsibility. Where our forces have replaced NATO forces security has improved in the area given the troops knowledge of the area of operation, respect for the customs and the high respect they have earned from the Afghan people," Abdali said.

"NATO on the other hand have transitioned into a mission of training, advising and equipping our forces," he said.

He said the second component of the peace process is the political transition and third component was the Economic component which was as "vital".


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