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Afghanistan leadership’s war of words with Pakistan escalates amid pullout of US troops

Afghanistan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Moheb (Pic: Courtesy Twitter/@KhateNakhost)

The war of words between Pakistan and Afghanistan has escalated amid the withdrawal of US troops from the region. The leaders of the Afghan government have been directly attacking Pakistan for the role it has played in supporting the rival Taliban and creating civil strife in Afghanistan.

In retaliation, Pakistan has reportedly conveyed to the leadership in Afghanistan that it will no longer conduct official business with the Afghan National Security Advisor  Hamdullah Moheb because of his recent "insulting remarks" against Pakistan.

Moheb has been repeatedly accusing Pakistan and its spy agency ISI of supporting and directing the Taliban’s insurgency in Afghanistan.

The Voice of America (VOA) on Friday quoted unnamed Pakistani officials as saying that Pakistan has conveyed to the leadership in Afghanistan that it will no longer conduct official business with the NSA. The report also states that Islamabad has shared its "strong protest" with Moheb's remarks in connection with the Afghan government.

Reacting to the report, Moheb told the media that the severance of Pakistan's ties with him would not have much impact on relations between the two countries.

“If Pakistan wants to improve its relations with Afghanistan, the neighbouring country should cut ties with terrorists in Pakistan. Instead of focusing on terrorist groups, it should focus on good relations with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," BBC cited him as saying.

NSA Moheb, on May 13, during a visit to Nangarhar province next to the Pakistan border, had said in a speech that the Taliban refer to Afghanistan as “Dar-ul-Harb” (Place where Jihad is mandatory) because foreigners have assisted some poor Afghans but Jihad is not permissible in “Heera Mandi” (Pakistan’s infamous brothel house).

Mohib urged Afghans to use social media to highlight the objectives of “our enemy (Pakistan) to our people, and it should start from Nangarhar.” Mohib, warned the Taliban that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies would “sacrifice” the Taliban for their own objectives.

Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh  who has survived many  assassination attempts by the Taliban, is a known critic of Pakistan and its ties with the Taliban and has for long been a thorn in the flesh of the Pakistani military establishment and intelligence agencies. In a recent attack on Pakistan, he said at the same meeting in Nangarhar that Pakistan does not want to work  with a Pashtun-educated president in Afghanistan because “ an educated Pashtun leader is a threat to Pakistan. The reality is neither Pashtuns nor non-Pashtuns are a threat to Pakistan but the unity of Afghanistan is a threat to them."


Hundreds  of Pakistani nationals from LeT and JeM continue to support the Taliban against the Afghan government. According to the latest UN report the total number of Pakistani nationals fighting with terrorist groups in Afghanistan may be as high as 6,000 to 6,500.

The verbal battle between the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan has reached a new level. On May 14, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told German Der Spiegel magazine that the Taliban had received logistics, finances and recruitment from Pakistan, and that their consultative bodies were named after Pakistani cities such as “Peshawar Shura, Quetta Shura and Miranshah Shura.”

Former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai has also stated that Pakistan wants Afghanistan to break relations with India but it is impossible.

Pakistan has warned that the Afghan leadership’s accusations could “erode trust and vitiate the environment between the two brotherly countries and disregard the constructive role being played by Pakistan in facilitating the Afghan peace process.”

But the Afghan government claims that Pakistan’s failure to live up to its promises of containing the Taliban has contributed to the unending cycle of violence in Afghanistan.