Taliban surviving solely on Pakistan's support, says Afghan President

05 December 2016

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday said that the Taliban would not be able to conduct coordinated high profile attacks in the capital Kabul without active support from Pakistan, suggesting tensions were rising with Pakistan although Ghani has been trying to improve relations with Islamabad after he took office in 2014.

Taliban would not survive a month if it lost its sanctuary in Pakistan, Ghani said, urging its neighbour to take on militant groups on its soil instead of giving Kabul financial aid.

Ghani made the remarks at the Heart of Asia Ministerial Summit in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, which is aimed at getting regional players together to help stabilise his country.

"This is unacceptable... Some still provide sanctuary for terrorists. As a Taliban figure said recently, if they had no sanctuary in Pakistan, they wouldn't last a month," he said.

Pakistan refuted Ghani's statement, saying that while violence had increased in Afghanistan, blaming another country for it didn't help.

Ghani noted that Afghanistan suffered the highest number of civilian casualties and military related deaths in the world last year.

Pakistan has a historical responsibility to back the Taliban as it was Islamabad that nurtured the insurgent group as a hedge against the influence of arch-rival India, with whom Pakistan has fought three wars.

Pakistan denies this and instead says it is itself a victim of terrorism and that fighters of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, one of the main groups carrying out attacks inside Pakistan, were operating from Afghanistan.

Sartaj Aziz, foreign policy adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief, said while it was true that there had been an upsurge in violence in Afghanistan, "We need to have an objective and holistic view rather to blame one country."

The increasing conflicts displaced over half a million Afghans this year, the highest number since the United Nations began compiling such statistics in 2008, according to the world body.

Also, the Islamic State has started encroaching the Taliban space claiming responsibility for attacks targeting minority Shi'ites in Afghanistan where sectarian violence has been rare.

Ghani said there were 30 militant groups identified by the UN that were trying to establish a base in Afghanistan.

"I don't want a blame game, I want clarifications on what is being done to prevent the export of terror," Ghani said, calling it an undeclared war on Afghanistan.

"We thank Pakistan for their pledge of $500 million assistance for reconstruction of Afghanistan. I hope you use it to fight terrorists and extremists in Pakistan." Pakistan had made the pledge earlier this year.

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