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Afghanistan-Pakistan relations plummet after Imran Khan's controversial comment

Afghanistan has recalled its ambassador after Imran Khan told journalists that establishing an interim government in Kabul would ensure smooth talks between the US and Taliban.

Afghanistan-Pakistan relations plummet after Imran Khan's controversial comment
File photo

Kabul: Afghanistan has recalled its ambassador from Pakistan over reported remarks by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that suggested Kabul should set up an interim government, calling the comments "irresponsible."

Khan told Pakistani journalists on Monday that forming an interim Afghan government would smooth peace talks between US and Taliban officials since the terrorist group refuses to speak to the current government, according to comments published in The Express Tribune.

“The Afghan government was a hurdle in (the) peace process that was insisting that Taliban should talk to it,” Khan is quoted as saying. He also said he had cancelled a scheduled meeting with Taliban leaders because of objections by the Afghan government.

Afghanistan summoned Pakistan`s deputy ambassador to discuss the "irresponsible" remarks by Khan, said foreign affairs ministry spokesman Sibghatullah Ahmadi in a series of tweets on Tuesday.

The Afghan government deemed Khan`s statements as "an obvious example of Pakistan`s interventional policy and disrespect to the national sovereignty and determination of the people of Afghanistan," Ahmadi said. 

The row marks the third time in just over a month that Kabul has demanded an explanation from Pakistan over comments related to peace talks, illustrating the flaring tensions between the two neighbours at a sensitive time.

US and Taliban officials have held recurring talks to end the 17-year war, but the Taliban considers the Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani as illegitimate.

Ghani`s mandate expires in May, and pressure is mounting on him to step down before the next presidential election, scheduled for Sept. 28. Ghani has rejected the idea of an interim government.