No ‘adverse effects’ of Taliban peace talks on Afghanistan: FO


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said peace talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were its “internal matter” and dismissed the allegations of an Afghan military commander about cross-border export of terrorism from Pakistan to Afghanistan and the adverse implications of the peace parleys on Afghanistan. 
“I would not like to comment on some commander’s adverse comments or allegations. Our actions during the elections, and even before that, speak for themselves and are out there for everyone to see,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam Khan told a weekly briefing when asked to comment on the accusations levelled by senior Afghan military official Major General Muhammad Sharif Yaftali about Pakistan sponsoring terrorism in Afghanistan and that the ongoing talks between the Pakistani government and the Taliban were causing escalation in the Haqqani network’s activities in Afghanistan.
“Talks with TTP are Pakistan’s internal matter. There have been indications that Afghan government itself may be talking to the Taliban. It is not very clear what these accusations are leading to!” Earlier on Wednesday, media reports quoted Afghan National Army’s commander Maj Gen Muhammad Sharif as saying during his visit to a military base in Paktia province that Taliban militants in Pakistan have established an increasingly close relationship with insurgents from across the border in Afghanistan, supplying them with explosives and well-trained fighters. 
“Many students brainwashed in strict Islamic religious schools, or madrassas, in Pakistan had crossed the border to join forces with the Taliban. There are no explosives-making factories in Afghanistan. All the explosives enter Afghanistan from Pakistan. We are close to North Waziristan and there are Taliban training grounds and funding sources,” he alleged. The FO spokesperson, on the other hand, claimed Pakistan wanted a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. “We have said from this forum again and again that for us, a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is very vital.”
Referring to the recent Afghan presidential polls, she said, “Pakistan’s consistent support for a free and fair electoral process is based on the belief that it is vital, both for a smooth political transition and for Afghanistan’s future stability. For our part, Pakistan took a range measures to reinforce existing security arrangements to help the efforts for a peaceful conduct of the elections. These included enhanced vigilance and security along the entire length of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, sealing of the crossing-points, deployment of additional troops, aerial surveillance, and enhanced communication through Border Coordination Centres.”
On the kidnappings of Iranian guards, who, Iran alleged were detained in Pakistan but were later released by an Iran-based militant organisation Jaish-e-Adal, Tasnim Aslam said the captives were not detained in Pakistan and the Pakistan-Iran relations were “not just about one issue. We have a multifaceted relationship and cooperation”. The spokesperson looked irritated when questioned on a sceptic note about the presumed cordiality of Pak-Iran relations in the wake of hostile statements coming from the Iranian ministers during the Iranian guards’ detention episode. “Do you have every single detail of the official communication that took place to this effect?” the spokeswoman asked the journalist who posed the related question. “Don’t put it like this: ‘PM wants to go to Iran’….There has been an invitation from the other side and dates are being worked out.” 
To another query about likely next prime minister of India Narendra Modi’s presumed response to Pakistan’s revived peace measures with India (in case he came to power), the FO representative responded in audibly grim tone. “Well, I am not in the business of reading minds. We deal with countries. It’s for the people of India to elect whoever they deem fit. We will take it from there.”
Pakistan looks forward to the resumption of peace process with India process so that people of this region can benefit from economic cooperation and focus on economic development, she said. Regarding the reports that some Indian political parties, should they assumed power, were planning to do way with the Article 370 in Indian constitution that granted special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, the diplomat said, Indian constitution was India’s internal matter. “We have a position on Jammu and Kashmir because Pakistan is a recognised and legitimate party to this dispute.”

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