- Envoy asserts peace in Pakistan difficult without peace in Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD: Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omar Zakhilwal Tuesday distanced his country from Indian efforts to diplomatically ‘isolate’ Pakistan and said, “We must tell Pakistan that our relations with India won’t be a threat to its security. We are not in the business of isolating Pakistan.”
The envoy said this while addressing a round table discussion titled ‘Bilateral Reconciliation: Opportunities and Challenges’, organised by Regional Peace Institute in the federal capital.
“The culture, history, geography and economies of both countries are interdependent and we need to ensure the integrity and self-determination of each other,” he said, adding Pakistan should also view the ties between Afghanistan and India in a positive light.
“We will ensure that alliance with India will be of no harm to Pakistan,” he said.
The diplomat, who is considered to be quite outspoken, contrary to the diplomatic traditions, admitted the fact that Pakistan and Afghanistan have ‘fracturing relations’ that need to be repaired.
“Issues are between the states, not between people of these countries and the core issue deteriorating bilateral relations is the distrust between the two states,” he said.
The ambassador pointed out that both the governments messed up their relations following the withdrawal of Soviet troops 28 years ago.
The Afghan diplomat went on to say that both Pakistan and Afghanistan mismanaged their own relations. “Afghanistan mismanaged it by not keeping a balance between New Delhi and Islamabad and it was a mistake. We [Afghanistan] relied on China and the US to mend our bilateral relations but never trusted each other to do the same,” he added.
The envoy, however, asserted that peace in both the countries is linked to each other and it is difficult to have peace in Pakistan without peace in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan had been involved in [Afghan] jihad and thinks that it has the right to dictate governments in Kabul. And this [approach] is not helpful at all. If there is no peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan cannot secure its people either,” he asserted.
The ambassador asserted that Afghanistan must ensure that its space is not used by elements like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to harm Pakistan, adding that Islamabad needed to reciprocate the same by ensuring that its soil is not used by elements like Haqqani network and others against Kabul.
“Both the countries must ensure that no space is given to state or non-state actors against each other’s interests,” he stressed.
Dr Zakhilwal highlighted that the relationship between two countries shall simultaneously allow the right to develop relations independently with any other country.
He said that a prosperous and well-respected Pakistan will benefit Afghanistan. “Both the countries need to give convincing mutual assurance that national interest won’t deter each other’s sovereignty,” he concluded.