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I call upon Pakistan to engage with us on dialogue on peace: Ashraf Ghani

20 September, 2017

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appealed Tuesday to Pakistan to work together to curb extremists, seeing an opportunity as the US sends in more troops.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Ghani said US President Donald Trump's new Afghan strategy sent a signal to Taliban guerrillas that they cannot win on the field and must negotiate peace.

“We welcome this strategy, which has now set us on a pathway to certainty. The Afghan people have looked to the United States for this type of resolve for years,” Ghani said.

Trump last month announced an Afghanistan strategy that reversed his previous calls to wind down America's longest war, which was launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks. He instead has sent thousands more troops to Afghanistan and pledged a tougher line on Pakistan for its alleged support to militants.

“We now also have an opportunity for a dialogue with our neighbours on how we can work together earnestly to eliminate terrorism and contain extremism,” Ghani said.

“I call upon Pakistan to engage with us on a comprehensive state to state dialogue on peace, security and regional cooperation leading to prosperity,” he said.

Fractious Pakistan-US relations got further strained last month when President Trump unveiled his administration’s policy on Afghanistan and South Asia. The policy lays special emphasis on kinetic operations to subdue Taliban militancy in Afghanistan, envisions greater role for India in Afghanistan and the overall regional security, and has been particularly hawkish on Pakistan accusing it of being an insincere partner in the fight against terrorism.

The new policy, which was seen here as humiliating, disrespectful to Pakistani sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, and indifferent to Islamabad’s security concerns, prompted a re-assessment of ties at the highest level.

The process is yet to complete, but indications from different levels of government point towards an existing consensus that there is no other option, but to stay engaged with US.

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