Afghan President names Pakistan as terror ‘sanctuary’

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Amritsar, Dec 4 (IANS) Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday unambiguously named Pakistan for promoting terrorism and said no amount of financial assistance can help stabilise the war-ravaged nation if “support to terrorists” from the neighbouring country continued.

Ghani, in his blunt remarks at the inaugural function of the 6th ministerial ‘Heart of Asia conference – Istanbul Process on Afghanistan’, said military operations in Pakistan have brought about selective displacement of terrorists.

“The state-sponsored sanctuaries exist in Pakistan. A Taliban figure said recently if they had no sanctuary in Pakistan, they wouldn’t last for more than a month,” Ghani said at the two-day event here on the development of Afghanistan, which is also being attended by Pakistan’s de facto foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz.

The Afghan President thanked Pakistan for its pledge to donate $500 million for reconstruction of the war-ravaged nation but, directly addressing Pakistan’s top diplomat, said: “I hope, Mr. Aziz, that you use it to fight terrorists and extremists in Pakistan.”

Ghani shared India’s concern on cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan and said the world needed to fight the “menace”.

“Afghanistan suffered the highest number number of casualties last year. This is unacceptable. Some (countries) still provide sanctuary for terrorists.”

The President said he didn’t want to engage in a blame game at the event in this Punjab city that was being attended by leaders from south and central Asia and several western countries.

He said he wanted clarification on what is being done to “prevent the export of terror”.

Modi, in his address, all but named Pakistan for supporting and financing terrorism, and urged the world to act against the forces that endanger peace in the entire South Asian region.

“We must demonstrate strong collective will to defeat terror networks. Support for peace alone is not enough. It must be backed by resolute action,” Modi said.

“Silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters….”

Modi said mere action against “forces of terrorism” was not enough and the world also needed to act against “those who support, shelter and finance them”.

Ghani earlier appreciated India’s unconditional support for the economic development of Afghanistan and said the expansion of the key Chabahar port between India, Iran and his country was very important for regional trade and connectivity.

He spoke about India’s assistance in the construction of Salma dam — officially called the Afghan-India Friendship Dam — that was inaugurated on June 4, 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Ghani in Herat province of that country.

The President said the Chabahar port development project “is very important for connectivity and commerce”.

India and Iran signed a bilateral agreement in May 2016 to refurbish the port on the Gulf of Oman that is expected to provide an alternative route for trade between India and Afghanistan.

Thanking India for further assistance of $1 billion, the Aghan President said: “An air corridor will also be soon launched and will improve trade ties.

“Some 20,000 Afghan students are studying in India. These students go back and help transform and reconstruct Afghanistan.”

He said India’s assistance is transparent and with no strings attached.

“There are no hidden deals between India and Afghanistan. We thank India for that.”

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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