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Kabul will restrict Pakistanís access to Central Asia if not given access to India through CPEC: Ashraf Ghani

26 October, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that his country will not be part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) unless it is given access to Pakistan’s Wagah and Attari borders.

Addressing a gathering at the Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi, Ghani said that Kabul will restrict Pakistan’s access to Central Asia if it is not given access to India through the CPEC project.

Coming just a week after talks between Pakistan, US, China and Afghanistan in Oman in an attempt to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, Ghani also rejected what he termed a ‘Pakistan-managed’ effort to broker peace in his country as he demanded that the initiative be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

Ghani’s comments came in a speech in New Delhi during his first visit to India after US President Donald Trump unveiled a revamped Afghanistan policy on 21 August that gives New Delhi a greater role in stabilizing Afghanistan economically but berates Pakistan for providing a ‘safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror’. The Afghan president’s India visit comes a day after he met US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and discussed the new Afghanistan policy in Kabul.

In his speech, Ghani said Afghanistan was fully capable of concluding a peace process on its own with forces opposed to it. An example was the return of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the head of the Hezb-e-Islami, the second largest in Afghanistan, under a peace deal brokered by the Ghani government in May. “Our approach to internal peace is to own it through Afghan government-led processes,” Ghani said. “We would like a push factor from Pakistan vis-a-vis the Taliban, not a Pakistan-managed peace process,” he said. In response to a question, Ghani noted that in 2001, the Taliban was an ‘exhausted, spent political force’ and it did not have sponsorship. The regrouping of the Taliban into the force it has become currently is due to state sponsorship of the group, he said.

“Sanctuaries are provided, logistics are provided, training is provided, ideological bases are provided. So instead of dramatising, what we are saying is that Pakistan has come to a juncture and it needs to make a choice,” on which would depend the response of the international community. In a reference to Islamabad’s often articulated charge against India that it was using Afghanistan as a base to destabilise Pakistan, Ghani said there were no ‘secret agreements’ between Kabul and New Delhi.

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