Pakistani Official Says Afghanistan Is Scapegoating His Country
(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan’s national security adviser said harsh rhetoric from Afghanistan’s government is making good relations between the neighbors impossible for now.
“We are beginning to see a very conscious, deliberate effort by the Afghan government to scapegoat Pakistan,” Moeed Yusuf told reporters Wednesday at Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, saying Afghanistan wants “to shift the entire blame for their failures.”
Pakistan has long faced criticism from the U.S. and the Afghan government for sheltering elements of the Taliban, the insurgent group that has been making rapid gains in much of Afghanistan as U.S. troops are set to complete their withdrawal within weeks.
Yusuf, in the U.S. for meetings with top U.S. officials including his U.S. counterpart, Jake Sullivan, acknowledged that other nations’ leverage to press the Taliban for a political solution is rapidly disappearing. As the U.S. has long maintained, Yusuf said the only solution in Afghanistan is a political one.
‘We will not accept a forceful takeover,” he said in an apparent reference to the Taliban’s aggression. “We have made it absolutely clear that we are with the international community on where this goes.”
Yet he reserved his sharpest criticism for the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“We want to have very good relations with the Afghan government as well,” Yusuf said. “Unfortunately, the vitriol and rhetoric coming from there is making that impossible.”
A peace process long underway in Doha, the Qatari capital, that was agreed to by the Taliban as part of negotiations for the U.S. to withdraw, has largely stalled.
Yusuf offered only tepid support for the Doha talks. He said the negotiations are “probably the most mature process without a doubt” but that new impetus was needed to achieve substantive results. He said other players should be included in the talks. Pakistani officials aren’t invited.
In addition, Pakistan is no longer in a position to accept Afghan refugees -- it currently hosts about 3.5 million, according to Yusuf.
“Peace in Afghanistan is nonnegotiable for us,” Yusuf said. “We, under no circumstances, are prepared to see protracted instability that in the past has caused spillover into Pakistan.”
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