ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani foreign office on Monday said it “strongly condemns” remarks by a former Canadian minister who alleged that Taliban fighters were “waiting to cross into Afghanistan from Pakistan,” terming the claims as “unwarranted” and “misleading.”
In a message posted on Twitter, Mr Alexander had earlier said: “Taliban fighters waiting to cross the border from Pakistan to Afghanistan… anyone still denying that Pakistan is engaged in an ‘act of aggression’ against Afghanistan is complicit in proxy war & war crimes.”
Taliban fighters waiting to cross the border from Pakistan to Afghanistan: anyone still denying that Pakistan is engaged in an ‘act of aggression’ against Afghanistan is complicit in proxy war & war crimes.
“We strongly condemn the unwarranted comments by former Canadian Minister Chris Alexander making unfounded and misleading assertions about Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudri said in a series of tweets on Monday.
In a Twitter post on Sunday, Alexander, who served as Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and as its first residential ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, added: “Anyone still denying that Pakistan is engaged in an ‘act of aggression against Afghanistan is complicit in proxy wars & war crimes.”
Zahid Chaudri said the assertion was “a complete lack of understanding of the issue as well as ignorance of facts on ground.”
“Now when the world has acknowledged what Pakistan and [Prime Minister] Imran Khan have consistently maintained about there being no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, and the need for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement, such gratuitous commentary is deplorable,” he added.
The FO spokesman also urged Canadian authorities to address the “motivated and malicious smear campaign.”
Violence has surged across Afghanistan since May 1, when the Taliban launched a sweeping offensive as Washington withdraws its last set of troops after 20 years of occupation.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have captured several districts and vital border crossings in Afghanistan, with the Pentagon now estimating that the group controls more than half of the country’s 419 district centers.
On Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan denied a report that Pakistani fighters had crossed the border into Afghanistan to aid the Taliban in its fight against the Afghan government. “This is absolute nonsense,” Khan said in an interview with PBS NewsHour before adding that Pakistan had suffered tremendously during the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan.
“We do not have the capacity to have any more fighting within our borders, any terrorism within our country,” Khan said.
Pakistan played a crucial role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiations table with the US to end the conflict in Afghanistan, with Khan reiterating that the best political outcome in Afghanistan was an “inclusive government”.
“This is the best outcome. There is no other outcome because the military solution has failed,” he said.
On Thursday, while speaking to Afghan journalists visiting Islamabad, Imran Khan said that Pakistan was neither “responsible” for the actions of the Afghan Taliban “nor a spokesperson for the group.”
“What the Taliban are doing or are not doing has nothing to do with us, and we are not responsible, neither are we the spokesperson of the Taliban,” he said.
During a weekly press briefing last week, Chaudri explained that Pakistan was a “close and brotherly neighbour” of Afghanistan and the “only country that has consistently emphasized that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict.”
He added that Pakistan had been supporting Afghan peace for an inclusive, intra-Afghan political settlement and was committed to facilitate an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” reconciliation process.