Afghan president invokes Allama Iqbal to garner attention of Pakistani leaders

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ISLAMABAD: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani used his Independence Day address to draw the attention of Pakistani leaders to a poem by philosopher-poet Allama Iqbal, who had linked peace in Afghanistan to peace in Asia.

Ghani also talked about Pakistan while addressing an event organised on Thursday in connection with Afghanistan’s 97th Independence Day. “Our message to Pakistan is strong. Our message to Pakistan is state-to-state. We will not give up our national interests. Our relations should be based on national interests,” the Afghan president said. Excerpts from Ghani’s speech have been posted online.

According to local media, Afghan Chief Executive  Abdullah Abdullah, currently involved in political wrangling with the president, stayed away from the function at the Presidential Palace. Afghanistan achieved complete independence from the British Empire on August 19, 1919 after the end of the third Anglo-Afghan war.

Afghans celebrate Independence Day at a time when nearly 15,000 foreign troops happen to be stationed in the country and American troops have been fighting the Taliban following US President Barack Obama’s policy to allow US forces accompany Afghan forces in operations.

“My message to the people of Pakistan and the Pakistani leaders is to read Iqbal’s poetry about Afghanistan. No one should think about using coercive tactics,” he said. Further, Ghani said, Afghanistan is a sovereign country and will have an independent foreign policy based on peace, regional cooperation and international relations.

“We want wide-ranging relations with the Islamic world, regional countries, Asia and the whole world. We have made significant achievements in our foreign policy. They are beyond our expectations,” he claimed.

Afghan leaders usually use such occasions to launch appeal to the Taliban to join the peace process. However, Ghani avoided making any such appeal.

He did issue a tough message to Daesh amid concerns about the group’s emerging threat though. “I will eliminate you not only in Nangarhar but all across the country,” Ghani said while referring to it.

Without naming any country, the Afghan leader said the international community should understand who had been supporting terrorist organisations. He urged the Islamic countries, especially Saudi Arabia to help frustrate the efforts of those bent upon bringing Islam into disrepute.

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