Afghanistan summons Pakistan diplomat over PM Imran’s remarks

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KABUL: The Afghan government on Saturday summoned a Pakistan diplomat to explain Prime Minister Imran Khan’s latest remarks on ongoing Afghan peace talks, as tensions flared between the neighbouring countries once again.
Afghanistan’s ministry of foreign affairs summoned the diplomat to object about remarks that it deemed “explicit interference” in Afghan affairs, the ministry’s spokesman, Sibghatullah Ahmadi, said on Twitter.
This marks the fourth time in about a month and a half that Kabul has demanded an explanation from Islamabad for comments related to peace talks aimed at ending 17 years of war in Afghanistan.
Last month, Afghanistan recalled its ambassador from Islamabad after PM Imran was quoted in the local media as suggesting formation of an interim Afghan government that would smooth peace talks between US and Taliban officials since the Taliban refused to speak to the current government.
The premier was quoted as saying to Pakistani journalists that the Afghan Taliban wanted to meet him but the government in Kabul protested so he did not meet them.
Addressing a rally in Jamrud on Friday, PM Imran explained his original comments as “brotherly advice” to the people and government of Afghanistan and said his comments should not be considered interference.
“Afghanistan considers recent statements of Imran Khan explicit interference in internal affairs of Afghanistan and deems PM’s remarks a return to his previous stance,” Sibghatullah Ahmadi tweeted.
US and Taliban officials have held several rounds of talks but the Taliban has refused to talk directly to the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate regime.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s mandate officially expires in May. The date for the next presidential election has been postponed twice and is now set for September 28.
Ghani has been shut out from the peace talks and is under pressure from rivals to step aside and allow a caretaker government to take over, a suggestion he has rejected.

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