“What we are communicating to Pakistanis is: We can be your allies, but we will never bow to you,” Saleh said in an interview with FRANCE 24.
Saleh blasted the suggestion by Pakistani PM Imran Khan to create an interim government in Afghanistan to conduct talks with the Taliban, warning that Khan “should be very careful” with Afghanistan. He once again accused Pakistan of “sponsoring terror”.
Saleh urged the US to include the Afghan government in its current negotiations with the Taliban. He hinted that such an involvement was needed to make the negotiations successful.
In the interview, Saleh denied a claim by a Dutch journalist that the former Taliban leader Mullah Omar was hiding for years in Afghanistan instead of Pakistan, branding her work “Harry Potter-like fiction”.
In the meantime, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told local private Pakistan TV that President Ashraf Ghani’s administration has taken an ill-advised decision to call back its Islamabad-based ambassador as a protest on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s reported comments regarding installation of interim government in Afghanistan.
Ambassador Atif Mashal, who had returned to Islamabad on Tuesday from Afghanistan, left for Kabul on Wednesday after he was called back as protest over the reported comments by Imran Khan.
On Wednesday, Foreign Office clarified that the PM had referred to Pakistan’s model where elections are held under an interim government.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office insisted that the “comments should not be misinterpreted to imply interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.” However, the clarification is seemed to have little impact in Afghanistan as Afghan leaders kept on continuing their criticism at the prime minister.