India should not be allowed to define Pak-Afghan relations, says Afghan envoy

  • Both countries assured to take credible and believable steps to remove sanctuaries from their soil: Dr Omar Zakhilwal
  • President Ghani would be visitng Pakistan at 'opportune' time: Afghan ambassador

ISLAMABAD – Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omar Zakhilwal said on Sunday that Pakistan and Afghanistan should not let any third party especially India define the nature of relations between the two countries.

In an interview to local media, the envoy stated that Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani hope to work together for the betterment of their respective countries and added that Kabul should be ‘cautiously optimistic’ after the meeting between two officials.

“General Bajwa is serious and sincere about improving relations with Afghanistan and Ghani is also serious about opening doors of friendship with Pakistan,” he said.

He expressed that the Ghani-Bajwa huddle was not a surprising move and many meetings were held prior to to the October 1 session.

Sharing details as to what was discussed during the meeting, the envoy said both countries had provided assurances that credible and believable steps would be taken to remove sanctuaries from their soil.

On COAS’s invitation to Ghani to visit Pakistan, Dr Zakhilwal said that the invitation was extended on behalf of the Pakistani government and the Afghan head would be honouring the invitation at the oppurtune time.

Pakistan and Afghanistan discuss trade, regional security

Dr Zakhilwal also rubbished the perception that some Afghan leaders were against negotiations with Pakistan.

“President, all important leaders, prominent leaders and the people want improved relations with Pakistan. In not a single meeting, did I observe any opposition to progress with Pakistan.”

The ambassador also shared that there was a notion that “our interests were not in the driver’s seat rather it is someone else.”

“Our national interest is to have better relations with Pakistan,” he declared.

The official categorically expressed that there has been no indication whatsoever from US that any bilateral progress [between Afghanistan and Pakistan] would be sabotaged.

“The people on both sides of the border want countries to be closest possible and this is how the leadership should be reflecting”, he concluded.