Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday described relations with neighbouring Pakistan akin to a catholic marriage where “the neighbour cannot be changed but its behaviour could change.” Ghani who was on a day-long visit to India coinciding with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s trip to the region including Kabul and Delhi did not hide disassppointment vis-a-vis Pakistan.
“We want peace with Pakistan and create a win-win situation. But if Pakistan stops our access to Wagah-Attari to reach India, our biggest trade partner, we can also stop Pakistan’s access to Central Asia,” Ghani told a selected audience at the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) following his three-hourlong wide-ranging talks with PM Narendra Modi that reviewed all recent developments.
“Pakistan should respond by deeds and not words,” the Afghan President said in an apparent reference to recent spate of violence which is alleged to have originated across the country’s eastern border. Pointing to Indo-Afghan air corridor Ghani stated that this initiative has defeated efforts that did not give India and Afghanistan to have direct access. “State of Afghanistan is not at the risk of collapse. Afghan Army is fleeing away…Afghanistan is emerging as transit and connectivity hub for Central Asia and Eurasia — Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Afghanistan can also be linked with China via Central Asia. No one can lock Afghanistan now. We are becoming a roundabout not a cul de sac.” Ghani also hailed US strategy for South Asia that retained Washington’s interests in the region. Ghani and Tillerson’s visit will facilitate aligning of position bettween the three countries notwithstanding Pakistan’s efforts to push Taliban into the government in Kabul.
The New Development Partnership that was launched at the meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council on September 11 was assessed by both leaders as a significant step in building upon the highly successful development cooperation of the past 16 years.
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