Fri, 17 Sep 2021

Islamabad [Pakistan], August 3 (ANI): With tensions escalating between governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan over the latter's support to the Taliban, Islamabad has shelved its plan to host a peace conference involving Afghanistan's political leadership.

The Pakistan government has quietly shelved its plan to host Afghan Peace Conference, Dawn reported citing a senior Pakistan official.

The conference was originally planned to be held from July 17 to 19 to give a fresh impetus to the efforts for peace in Afghanistan.

Twenty-one prominent Afghan leaders, including Abdullah Abdullah, Karim Khalili, Mohammad Younus Qanooni, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Salahuddin Rabbani, Ismail Khan, Ata Mohammad Noor, Sayed Hamed Gailani, Sayed Eshaq Gailani, Batur Dostum and Mirwais Yasini, had been invited to the conference in Islamabad. Several of them had confirmed their participation.

Taliban had not been invited.

However, in recent weeks, Afghan and Pakistan officials have issued statements bringing animosity between the two sides to the fore.

The ties have been further strained with Pakistan's overt and covert support to the Taliban which has been engaged in bloody clashes with the Afghan security forces.

According to Dawn, the meeting was postponed at the eleventh hour after last-minute pull-outs and criticism by President Ashraf Ghani, who had reportedly during a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Uzbekistan, called for its cancellation.

"Afghan leaders individually in their conversations with Pakistani officials make varying demands, therefore, we thought that the conference would help them put forward a common set of expectations," the official said.

The Pakistan government is now thinking of convening a regional conference on Afghanistan at the foreign ministers' level.

Islamabad and Kabul relations are at a low ebb in the wake of escalating violence in Afghanistan.

Last month, Pakistan's National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf claimed that Kabul was being embarrassed by "idiotic statements" from its senior officials who were vitiating bilateral relations.

Yusuf's remarks come as Afghan officials have ratcheted their attacks against Pakistan government and army for supporting terrorists. Afghan officials accused Pakistan of providing air support to the Taliban and threatening to hit back if Afghan forces try to retake the Spin Boldak border area.

In mid-July, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also ripped into Pakistan for abetting the Taliban.

Ghani said 10,000 'jihadi' fighters have entered Afghanistan in the last month, while the Imran Khan-led Pakistan government had failed to convince the Taliban to "negotiate seriously" in the ongoing peace talks.

Ashraf Ghani is not the only one in Afghanistan accusing Pakistan of not doing enough as Afghan forces are struggling to thwart the Taliban offensive.

Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh and National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib have also highlighted Pakistan's support to terror groups.

The tensions also escalated following the July 16 kidnapping of Afghanistan's envoy to Pakistan Najib Alikhail's daughter Silsila Alikhail who was released after 6 hours from the capital city of Islamabad. Kabul hit back by recalling its top envoy and diplomats from Islamabad. (ANI)

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