Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has snubbed Pakistan over its $500m aid offer saying Islamabad should focus on tackling terrorism instead of providing financial assistance.
At the sixth Heart of Asia summit, Ghani cold-shouldered Pakistan amid the existing tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad. Heart of Asia is a forum set up to help Afghanistan during the transition period.
"We thank Pakistan for their pledges of $500m assistance for reconstruction of Afghanistan. I hope you use it to fight terrorists and extremists in Pakistan... No amount of money can assist us if there is support to terrorists by Pakistan," the Afghan leader told the gathering in which representatives of 14 nations including Pakistan took part. On behalf of Islamabad, the country's top foreign affairs aide to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sartaj Aziz, participated in the conference in Amritsar in the north Indian state of Punjab.
Ghani's remarks are also seen as a show of Afghanistan's solidarity with India in the ongoing geopolitical clashes between the two nuclear-armed rivals. Afghanistan, where India has been aggressively pushing its diplomatic efforts over the past decade, is often seen closer to India than to Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also held bilateral talks with Ghani on the sidelines of the summit.
Hitting back at Ghani, Pakistan's Aziz said: "We are cognizant that Afghanistan continues to face serious challenges... This needs to be addressed," adding that it was "simplistic to blame just one country for the violence".
Modi also targeted Pakistan saying: "We must demonstrate [a] strong collective will to defeat terror networks. Support for peace alone is not enough. It must be backed by resolute action. Silence and inaction against terrorism in Afghanistan and our region will only embolden terrorists and their masters."