Afghan leader de­mands ac­tion from Pak­istan

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani de­manded tough ac­tion from Pak­istan against Tal­iban mil­i­tants in a let­ter seek­ing greater an­titer­ror­ism co­op­er­a­tion, af­ter fac­ing strong public crit­i­cism over a con­tro­ver­sial in­tel­li­gence-shar­ing deal be­tween the neigh­bors.

The spy agen­cies of both coun­tries this month agreed to trade in­tel­li­gence and bol­ster co­op­er­a­tion in their fight against the Tal­iban, the lat­est sign of a thaw in on­ce­frosty ties.

The Afghan gov­ern­ment played down the sig­nif­i­cance of the deal, which trig­gered up­roar in par­lia­ment and an avalanche of public crit­i­cism, with many ac­cus­ing Ghani’s gov­ern­ment of sell­ing out to long­time nemesis Pak­istan.

In the let­ter, whose con­tents were shared by of­fi­cials with AFP on Sun­day, Ghani asked Islamabad’s civil­ian and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship to condemn the Tal­iban’s an­nual spring of­fen­sive and re­it­er­ated Kabul’s long­stand­ing de­mand of deny­ing in­sur­gents sanc­tu­ary on their side of the bor­der.

The let­ter also de­manded that Pak­istan place Tal­iban lead­ers in Quetta and Pe­shawar un­der house ar­rest and de­tain mem­bers of the Tal­iban-al­lied Haqqani net­work “re­spon­si­ble for re­cent ter­ror cam­paign in Afghanistan.”

The let­ter comes as the Tal­iban in­ten­sify their an­nual spring of­fen­sive, launched in late April, which has sent civil­ian ca­su­al­ties soar­ing.

It marks the first fight­ing sea­son in which Afghan forces will battle the in­sur­gents with­out the full sup­port of U.S.-led for­eign com­bat troops.

Afghan of­fi­cials have fre­quently ac­cused Pak­istan of har­bor­ing and nur­tur­ing Tal­iban in­sur­gents, who are wag­ing a 13-year war against lo­cal and for­eign troops in the coun­try.

But Ghani has ac­tively courted Pak­istan, which has his­tor­i­cally backed the Tal­iban, since com­ing to power in what ob­servers say is a cal­cu­lated gam­bit to pres­sure the in­sur­gents to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

Afghanistan’s en­gage­ment with Pak­istan in its fight against the Tal­iban is seen as a ma­jor pol­icy shift from the pre­vi­ous Hamid Karzai gov­ern­ment, which ac­cused Islamabad of desta­bi­liz­ing Kabul.

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