Friday, January 20, 2017

Pakistan concerned about "foothold of terrorist outfits" in Afghanistan: FM

Pakistan on Thursday expressed serious concerns about the grip of several terrorist groups in neighboring Afghanistan.

The statement came days after a series of attacks killed nearly 60 people, including five UAE diplomats.

The Taliban had claimed responsibility for a deadly attack in Kabul and Helmand on Jan. 11, and no group has yet claimed responsibility for the Kandahar attack on the same day, in which the diplomats were killed.

"Increasing foothold of various terrorist organizations and outfits due to persistent instability in Afghanistan is a growing concern for not just Pakistan but other countries in the region and beyond," Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said.

Zakaria told his weekly briefing that a number of independent studies and assessments have established that the factors impeding reconciliation and stability in Afghanistan are internal to Afghanistan.

To a question about remarks by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that those who were behind the recent attacks "live, operate and recruit in Pakistan," he rejected it as baseless allegations.

"The accusatory approach is unhelpful towards efforts for peace. Pakistan has suffered from the menace of terrorism and has made unparalleled sacrifices," the Pakistani spokesman said.

"We have done more than any other nation in the world in the fight against terrorism. Pakistan has highest stakes in the peace and stability in Afghanistan. No country gets affected more than Pakistan due to instability in Afghanistan," he said.

He said Pakistan remains committed to a meaningful engagement with Afghanistan to address the common challenge of terrorism, adding Pakistan is willing to extend all possible cooperation to Afghanistan, particularly for sharing the achievements and experience in the field of counter-terrorism and border management.

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