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Pakistan cancels Afghanistan peace conference, after facing accusations of supporting Taliban

Afghan VP Amrullah Saleh claimed the Pak air force was providing support to Taliban

imran-khan-pakistan-ap File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | AP

On Friday, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, speaking at a conference in Uzbekistan capital Tashkent on Friday, attacked the Pakistan government, saying Islamabad was fomenting violence in Afghanistan. In retaliation, Pakistan cancelled a three-day conference on peace in Afghanistan, which was to be hosted by Islamabad from Saturday, postponing it till Eid al-Adha.

Ghani said over 10,000 jihadi fighters had crossed over from Pakistan to his country in the last month. Further, Ghani said Taliban militants are treated in Pakistani hospitals after clashes with Afghan troops. This comes after remarks made by Afghanistan Vice President Amrullah Saleh that the Pakistan air force was providing air support to the Taliban militants in the border areas of Chaman and Spin Boldak.

Pakistan rejected the statement. "Such statements undermine Pakistan's sincere efforts to play its part in an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution," the Pakistan Foreign Office claimed. 

Fierce fighting has been going on for the last few days between the Afghan forces and the Taliban in Kandahar. The Taliban militants have seized dozens of districts in recent weeks and are now thought to control about a third of the country, ahead of the complete withdrawal of US and Western troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

Last week, the Taliban said they now control 85 per cent of Afghanistan's territory, a claim that is impossible to verify but that was considerably higher than previous Taliban statements that more than a third of the country's 421 districts and district centers were in their control. 

In northern Afghanistan, a traditional stronghold of US-allied warlords, more than 1,000 Afghan military men fled across the border into northern Tajikistan last week ahead of the advancing Taliban. Iran also reported a few hundred Afghan troops crossing into Iran. The taking of key border crossings will likely mean significant revenue for the Taliban while also strengthening their hand in any future negotiations with the Kabul government.

-Inputs from PTI

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