Afghanistan objects to KP-FATA merger

* Islamabad rejects Kabul’s stance, saying parliament’s decision reflects will of people of Pakistan

Afghanistan on Saturday objected to the Pakistan’s decision of KP-FATA merger, saying “the decision was against the 1921 agreement between the British India and Afghanistan”.

Comments by the Afghan Presidential Palace came two days after both houses of the Pakistani parliament approved the merger with two-third majority.

“Pakistan’s decision is against the 1921 agreement between the British India and Afghanistan,” President Ashraf Ghani’s office said in a statement, which was posted online.

The statement said Pakistani parliament had taken the decision of the merger at a time when the “military was governing” the areas.

“Every decision about the tribal regions should be made in normal situation and in accordance with the consensus of the tribal people,” it said.

“The Afghan government believes that one-sided decision under the pretext to end the British-era laws and inhuman system is not solution to the problems,” the statement added.

“We have always shared our concerns through diplomatic channels with Pakistan and international community about Pakistan’s military intervention across the Durand Line, especially in the tribal regions,” Ghani’s office further said.

Also the President’s Office announced that Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar would visit Pakistan today (Sunday) to meet senior civil and military leaders.

According to the statement, Atmar will visit Pakistan at the invitation of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The delegation will hold talks regarding the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region.

The Afghan adviser will also meet Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the statement further added.

This will be the first high level visit after Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed on a comprehensive bilateral mechanism for dialogue on key areas.

Both sides have operationalised five working groups under the Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity (APAPPS) and efforts are underway to implement its seven key principles that also include their commitments to take action against fugitive and irreconcilable elements.

Pakistan, meanwhile, rejected the Kabul’s stance on KP-FATA merger.

“Our parliament’s decision reflects the will of the people of Pakistan,” Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal said in reaction to Afghan government’s objection.

“The principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the conduct of bilateral relations need be scrupulously adhered to by Afghanistan,” Dr Faisal tweeted.

Published in Daily Times, May 27th 2018.