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Pakistan PM’s remarks on Afghan peace process stir diplomatic row

30 Mar 2019 National Radio TV of Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan – People in Afghanistan have criticised Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s reported remarks suggesting the formation of an interim government in the war-torn South Asian country.

The West-backed government led by President Ashraf Ghani recalled its ambassador from Pakistan on Wednesday in protest against Khan’s “irresponsible” statement, setting off a diplomatic row.

“Any Afghan who loves his country, will feel bad with such statements coming from the prime minister of Pakistan,” said Ahmad Jawid Safi, 30, who has spent many years in Pakistan as a refugee escaping war in Afghanistan.

In a report published in Pakistan’s local news website the Express Tribune on Tuesday, the Pakistani prime minister suggested an interim government will help break the deadlock in the ongoing peace talks spearheaded by the United States.

The Pakistani leader also blamed the Afghan government for the failure of peace talks calling it “a hurdle in peace process”.

US and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their longest round of talks in Doha earlier this month hailing progress on some key issues – but without producing a major breakthrough.

In separate statements, both Taliban and US officials said the negotiations in Qatar produced developments on the withdrawal of US troops and security issues related to any pullout by Washington.

US President Donald Trump wants to pull out nearly 14,000 troops stationed in the country since 2001, when it intervened to

 the Taliban from power in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

But since then the Taliban group has waged an armed rebellion against what they call foreign occupying forces, inflicting heavy human toll.

US special peace envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who led several rounds of talks with the Taliban in Doha, dubbed Khan’s comments “inappropriate”.

Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of supporting the Taliban – a charge Islamabad denies.

Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “deemed such statements an obvious example of Pakistan’s interventional policy and disrespect to the national sovereignty and determination of the people of Afghanistan”.

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