Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday insisted that Pakistan demanded “unacceptable” conditions in exchange for its cooperation in the peace process, despite Islamabad yesterday rejecting the charge made by the Afghan presidential spokesman earlier this week.

“Unfortunately, Pakistan has changed its position in supporting a peace process in Afghanistan. When the Pakistani government understood that the peace process is being led by the Afghan government and Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, it offered some conditions which are unacceptable to the Afghan government,” foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai said at a press briefing in Kabul.

President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi was quoted by AFP on Thursday as saying that Pakistan “demanded we cut all ties to India, send army officers to Pakistan for training, and sign a strategic partnership”.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman on Friday rejected Faizi’s comments, pointing out that it was Karzai who had proposed a bilateral Strategic Partnership Agreement – which did not include India.

“Pakistan is whole-heartedly supporting and facilitating the peace process without any conditions or preference for any particular group or party,” he said.

“Pakistan did not demand that Afghanistan should ‘cut all ties to India’. Pakistan has no objection or issue with Afghanistan developing relations with any country. We have only stressed that those external forces which are using the soil of Afghanistan to destabilise Pakistan should be discouraged.”

Mosazai today repeated the Afghan government’s claim, coinciding with the visit of Karzai to the Gulf nation Qatar for peace talks.

Karzai Saturday travelled to Qatar’s capital Doha to negotiate the opening of a political office for the Taliban.

Reports have suggested that Karzai will meet with Taliban representatives, however this has not been confirmed. The Qatari government said Karzai is meeting with country officials.

“The negotiation over the opening of an office for the Taliban will be a part of a negotiation between Afghanistan’s government and Qatar’s government,” Mohammad Fayiq Wahidi, the Qatari presidents’ deputy spokesman said Saturday in a telephone interview.

While Karzai’s trip to Qatar demonstrates the importance of the plan to give the Taliban a political office, others in the Afghan government question the wisdom of sidelining Pakistan from the peace process.

“I think that we cannot ignore Pakistan’s role in the peace process while major Taliban commanders are living in Pakistan,” Kabul MP Sayed Hussain Anwari told TOLOnews.

Earlier this week, Afghanistan cancelled a planned military exercise with Pakistan to protest a shelling into Kunar province from the Pakistan side of the border.

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