New Pak Army Chief Reaches Out To Afghanistan
NEW DELHI: Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa telephoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday, says a statement issued by the Pakistani military’s media wing. In the call, the General spoke to President Ghani about recent terror attacks in Afghanistan, and on the need to prevent movement of terrorists across the Pakistan-Afghan border.
According to the statement issued, Gen. Bajwa told the Afghan President that “elements inimical to peace in the region are strengthened by blame game,” adding that Pakistan has done its part to ensure that there are no safe havens for terrorists within its territory.
Inter-Services Public Relations chief Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted the statement.
Referring to Operation Zarb-e-Azb, where the Pakistani military has engaged in a counter terror offensive in North Waziristan in a bid to root out militants from the region, the General said that both Afghanistan and Pakistan should focus on the operation’s success. "Pakistan has come a long way in its fight against terrorism of all hue and colour," the statement read, adding that "all safe havens [of militants] have been eliminated in the process". "Both nations should rather focus on capitalising the gains of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in Pakistan," it stated.
President Ghani reportedly thanked Gen Bajwa for the call and echoed his resolve in improving peace and stability in the region.
General Bajwa takes over from General Raheel Sharif, under whose tenure relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan dipped to yet another low. This is because Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of aiding and abetting terror, and differentiating between “good” terrorists and “bad” terrorists. The former, Afghans allege, refers to terrorists focused across the border on Afghanistan and India, and the latter includes the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other terror groups waging a war against the Pakistani state. Operation Zarb-e-Azb, along with Islamabad’s other counterterror offensives, Afghanistan says, focuses disproportionately on the latter, with “good” terrorists continuing to enjoy safe havens and protection.
Earlier this week, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Pakistani embassy in Kabul to protest what they said was Pakistan’s hand in the surge of terror across the country. The demonstrators raised slogans against the Pakistani army and its intelligence arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)
Pakistan on its part denies the charge.
Pakistan’s relationship with terror groups has been the major thorn in its relationship with two neighbours, namely Afghanistan and India. When President Ghani took over from Hamid Karzai, he signalled a change in this relationship by reaching out to Pakistan and moving to initiate a peace dialogue with the Taliban. Critics at the time warned Ghani of “sleeping with the enemy” as such, as distrust regarding Pakistan remains the reality in Pakistan. As the peace talks faltered and violence at the hand of the Taliban saw a massive surge, Ghani too changed his tune, falling back into a hostile Pak-Afghan relationship.
In the last year, the Taliban has seen some of its biggest gains yet, with several provinces -- including Kunduz and Helmand -- threatened to fall to the militant group. While the Afghan government has focused on blaming Pakistan for the scenario, other factors are not being adequately dealt with, the the result being that the Taliban is gaining strength day by day.