Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Monday that relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan were not brotherly but like a relationship between two states. In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation on the first anniversary of his presidential term, Ghani urged Islamabad to take the same stance against terrorists targeting Pakistan or any other country.
The Afghan president’s statement comes at a time when relations between the two countries are tense, with leaders from both sides accusing the other of harbouring terrorists. Popular belief in Afghanistan questions Pakistan’s sincerity in seeking a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.
“The point is that they [Pakistanis] cannot adopt a hard stance against any terrorist activities in their own country and a different stance for terrorists devastating Afghanistan,” Ghani said in the interview. “Peace between the two countries is of paramount importance,” he added. “Unless there is peace, the hideouts of terrorists as well as the system supporting them will remain there.”
The Afghan president said terrorism was a big threat to Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. “The [attacks on] children and soldiers in Peshawar is a grim reminder for them [Pakistanis] that you cannot differentiate between good and bad as long as terrorists are concerned,” he said while referring to the Army Public School attack, which had left more than 150 people, mostly schoolchildren, dead in December 2014.
Ghani said it was high time the Taliban decided whether they were Afghans or tools of international extremism and regional hegemony. “If they choose to be Afghans, which I hope they will, peace will return here,” he said. “Otherwise they will become isolated as no one will support them.”
He added that the Taliban needed to understand that they had become unpopular for killing children and innocent people. “The society is fed up with war and wants peace.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2015.