Kabul gives Imran Khan the cold shoulder

Kabul gives Imran Khan the cold shoulder

For the fourth time in less than two months, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s comments on the peace process have not only made the Afghan government protest, but also caused outrage among Afghans across the political spectrum.

In the first week of April, during a rally in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, Mr. Khan reiterated an earlier comment that he termed a “brotherly advice” to Afghanistan — he sought the formation of an interim government to negotiate peace with the Taliban in the war-torn country.

In response, the Afghan Foreign Ministry summoned a Pakistani envoy, seeking an explanation for Mr. Khan’s remarks. “These remarks are against good neighbourly relations and international law. We always protest against such comments. Pakistan’s leadership has to respect Afghanistan as a sovereign and independent country. We hope they will change their mind,” Sibghatullah Ahmadi, spokesperson at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the media on Monday.

Mr. Khan had made a similar comment in an interview with Express Tribunethat was published in March, where he had blamed the Afghan government over what he perceived as a failure of the talks process.

“The Afghan government was a hurdle in peace process that was insisting that the Taliban should talk to it,” he told the newspaper, adding that the reason Pakistan cancelled talks with the Taliban was because of the Afghan government’s objections.

Earlier in the same month, at a rally in Bajaur in northwestern Pakistan, Mr. Khan assured the locals there that a “good government will come in Afghanistan” — remarks that were not taken too kindly by the Afghan government.

Recall of Ambassador

In February, Afghanistan sent a letter to the UN Security Council, raising concerns on a scheduled meeting between the Pakistani government and the insurgent group. Tensions later escalated to the extent of Afghanistan recalling its Ambassador Atif Mashal from Pakistan.

Mr. Khan’s most recent comments have also received an extremely strong backlash from the Afghans. “Imran Khan’s repeated interferences in Afghanistan’s internal affairs is a grave violation of the United Nations Charter. All nations must respect our sovereignty,” stressed Spozhmai Stanikzai, a former Afghan diplomat, to this writer.

“We all must respect our Constitution, which is the supreme law of Afghanistan, and allow our legitimate government to decide about such issues,” she urged.

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