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Afghanistan recalls ambassador from Islamabad

Khan reportedly told Pakistani journalists on Monday that forming an interim government would smooth peace talks between US and Taliban officials since the militant group refuses to talk to the current government.

“The Afghan government was a hurdle in (the) peace process that was insisting that Taliban should talk to it,” Khan was quoted as saying.

He also said that he had cancelled a scheduled meeting with Taliban leaders because of objections by the Afghan government.

Afghanistan foreign ministry slammed the remarks as “irresponsible” and summoned Pakistan’s deputy ambassador in Kabul.

“Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its grave objection on Pakistani PM’s recent reckless statements about the peace process and establishment of an interim government, deemed such statements an obvious example of Pakistan’s interventional policy and disrespect to the national sovereignty and determination of the people of Afghanistan,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also recalled Afghanistan’s Ambassador from Islamabad for further discussions on the matter, the statement added.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Shukrullah Atif Mashal called the remarks a clear attempt of interference in internal affairs of Afghanistan.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad who has held multiple rounds of peace talks with the Taliban, also criticized Khan’s remarks.

“While Pakistan has made constructive contributions on the Afghan peace process, PM Khan’s comments did not. The future of Afghanistan is for Afghans, and only Afghans, to decide. The role of the international community is to encourage Afghans to come together so they can do so,” Khalilzad said.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry in a statement on Wednesday said thatKhan’scomments on Afghanistan had been reported out of context in the media, leading to “unwarranted reaction from various quarters.”

“In his comments, Pakistan PM had referred to Pakistan’s model where elections are held under an interim government. The comments should not be misinterpreted to imply interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said that Pakistan PMhas taken “personal interest in facilitating the ongoing political reconciliation process and the same must not be misconstrued to undermine the sincere efforts of Pakistan or to create misunderstandings at this crucial stage of the process.”