Pakistan on Friday postponed the three-day conference on peace in Afghanistan, which was to be hosted by Pakistan from Saturday. Officials said that it has been postponed till Eid al-Adha, amidst escalating violence in the war-ravaged country and trading of barbs between Kabul and Islamabad over alleged support to Taliban militants. Originally the conference was scheduled from July 17 to 19 in Islamabad. Though a number of high-ranking Afghan leaders were expected to attend it but Taliban leaders were not invited.
The Pakistan Foreign Office released a short statement “The Afghan Peace Conference scheduled to be held in Islamabad from 17-19 July 2021 has been postponed until after Eid Al-Adha. The new dates of the said Conference will be announced later”. This year Eid Al-Adha will be celebrated on July 21. Conference postponement statement came following another statement released by the Foreign Office rejecting the 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.
Earlier on Thursday, Afghanistan Vice President Saleh had tweeted: “Pakistan air force has issued (an) official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any mov to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force. Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas.”
Afghan forces and the Taliban have been fiercely fighting for the last few days in Spin Boldak town of 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 withdraw of US and Western troops from Afghanistan by September 11.
With Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and world leaders in the audience, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani used a regional conference in Tashkent on Friday to launch a blistering attack on Islamabad for failing to prevent foreign terrorists sneaking into Afghanistan and not doing enough to pressure the Taliban to join peace talks. Ghani said “over 10,000 jihadi fighters had crossed over from Pakistan to his country in the last month. Taliban militants are treated in Pakistani hospitals after clashes with Afghan troops.”
The Pakistan Foreign Office has categorically denied the charges. “We remain committed to peace in Afghanistan and shall continue to endeavour towards this end irrespective of the detractors,” the FO said on Friday.