Without mincing words, Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Dr Hazrat Umar Zakhilwal said that trust deficit was bedeviling relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In an interview with The News, he said the Afghans knew that who had imposed war on them.
“I still believe that Kabul and Islamabad can find out solutions of the problems confronting them,” he said.
Umar Zakhilwal, who is also Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s special envoy to Pakistan, observed that Islamabad is not ready to accept that war was imposed on Afghanistan from Pakistan.
“Instead of taking practical steps, Pakistan issues mere statements that it wants peace in Afghanistan. Afghans know as to wherefrom war is imposed on them,” he maintained. “We want Islamabad to pinpoint where it has difficulty with Kabul. We also want to present our reservations so that practical steps could be taken to resolve the issues,” he argued.
“How can we improve relations with Pakistan when it blocks our roads and arrest our citizens, including Sharbat Gula?” he said. “Pakistan always takes such steps that damage Pak-Afghan relations,” he contended.
The Afghan ambassador didn’t agree when asked to explain if Afghanistan had sheltered the militants staging attacks in Pakistan. “These are lame excuses. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may be causing problems in the last five years, but there were problems before that too,” he pointed out.
He held Pakistan’s Afghan policy responsible for the problems. He asked as to who created the Taliban. “We are not sheltering Maulana Fazlullah. They (Pakistan) have pushed the terrorists towards us. We took action against the militants, whose names were given to us after the Army Public School (APS) attack within our limited resources,” he stressed.
“We either killed those terrorists including Umar Naray, the main accused in the APS terrorist attack, or handed them over to Pakistan,” he claimed. “We took action and proved it but from Pakistan we are offered mere statements. Can Pakistan prove that it took action against the Haqqani network during the operation Zarb-e-Azb?” he asked.
Umar Zakhilwal said it was not right to say that India was using Afghanistan against Pakistan for its interests. He said that such an observation was an insult to the Afghan nation, adding that Afghanistan was not a cheap country.
“Afghanistan has centuries old history and its leaders are doing politics keeping in view their national interests. We are not a country that can be used by others. We are an independent country. We maintain relations with other countries keeping in view our own interests,” he maintained.
He said that Pakistan and Afghanistan shared same culture, religion and border. “We are neighbours and could come close to each other but unfortunately Pakistan closed its border for us in the fruit season. The closure of Chaman border recently destroyed our grapes being exported to Pakistan. On the other hand India took the fruit in planes,” he lamented.
The Afghan ambassador opined that Pakistan could improve relations with Afghanistan through positive policies. “We should pinpoint the issues and sincerely resolve them,” he maintained.
“We cannot forget Pakistan’s role for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for 35 years, but we have also observed the unfriendly treatment meted out to our people in recent months,” he said.