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Pakistan's PM Voices Unprecedented Support for Afghanistan

by Ayesha Tanzeem May 12, 2015

During a one-day visit to Kabul, Pakistan's prime minister made what some are calling his strongest remarks ever in support of peace in Afghanistan. And his military seemed to reiterate the message.

When Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Kabul Tuesday, he was accompanied by the army chief, General Raheel Sharif.

Regional analysts in Afghanistan say they think this was meant to reassure President Ashraf Ghani that Pakistan's civilian and military leadership are in agreement. The trip was aimed at easing Kabul's concerns that Pakistan is not doing enough to facilitate talks with the Taliban.

During the one-day visit, Sharif made what some think might be his strongest remarks yet in support of Afghan peace talks. He also seemed to be giving a message to the Afghan Taliban as he condemned their spring offensive.

"Continuation of such offensive and attacks will be construed as terrorist acts and we condemn such attacks in strongest terms,' he warned.

Sharif responded to what has been a longstanding Afghan complaint, that while Pakistan is fighting the Pakistani Taliban, it still looks the other way where the Afghan Taliban are concerned.

"All sanctuaries, when found, will be eliminated by direct action, and will be monitored by the existing mechanism,' Sharif said. 'Any effort, by any militant or group to destabilize Afghanistan, will be dealt with severely, and such elements will be outlawed and hunted down."

He also promised coordinated action with Afghanistan against militant hideouts along the border.

While the army chief did not speak, the army's spokesman, Major General Asim Bajwa, tweeted the same message, saying the relationship will be based on non-interference in each other's affairs, and that the two countries will not allow their territories to be used against each other.

The relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been warming since Ashraf Ghani was elected Afghan president. Former president Hamid Karzai often accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists and providing them with sanctuaries. Ghani has changed the discourse to emphasize joint threats.

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