Afghanistan should focus on improving security, not blame Pakistan: Maleeha

NEW YORK: Afghanistan should turn its attention to reversing the deteriorating security situation in the country instead of blaming Pakistan, a top Pakistani diplomat said on Sunday.
"We are ready to help address the shared threat of violent extremists to the region but for that, Afghanistan should desist from externalizing its internal problems," Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, said in response to questions during an interview with Voice of America (VOA).
"The surge in violence (in Afghanistan) seems to indicate the spreading influence of ISIS about which we have long warned," the Pakistani envoy pointed out.
"The ability of violent groups to infiltrate Kabul's green zone also suggests insider connections which are even more worrying," Ambassador Lodhi said, referring to a truck explosion on Wednesday that reportedly killed nearly 100 people and wounded hundreds of others near the presidential palace and foreign embassies.
Recalling that Pakistan had strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul,  she said, "The rapid slide in the security situation is troubling not only for Afghanistan but for all its neighbours, especially Pakistan."
Those attacks, she said, also seemed to be aimed at scuttling plans for initiating a renewed peace and reconciliation effort by elements opposed to the process.
"But whoever may be responsible for the latest spate of brutal attacks, the Afghan government would do better to focus on this growing threat rather than hurl baseless accusations against Pakistan," Ambassador Lodhi said.  "The timing of the attacks on Kabul suggests those who carried them out want to sabotage any renewed effort towards a negotiated peace."
She added, "Terrorism and violent extremism are a common enemy and need a joint resolve to fight it."
Meanwhile, the UN envoy to Afghanistan called for measures to halt the cycle of violence following Wednesday's deadly attack.
"I urge everyone not to respond to violence with more violence, Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, said referring to Saturday's attack, which reportedly killed at least seven people and wounded dozens of others attending a funeral in the Afghan capital.
Yamamoto underscored that the incident "follows so much violence this week across the country, in Khost, in Kabul and in other provinces."
"Meaningful steps must take place now to obtain an immediate, nationwide halt to violence. I encourage all parties to enter discussions toward that end. The United Nations stands ready to help," the envoy said.
He also urged all members of the international community to help put an end the cycle of violence and support the foundations of a lasting peace. The upcoming Kabul meeting on regional peace and security provides an immediate opportunity in that regard. - NNI