ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Thursday asked Afghanistan to stay away from anti-peace elements who want to pit the Muslim-majority neighbours against each other, saying blame game was unhelpful for peace efforts.

Addressing a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said the Afghan allegations after this week’s terror attack in Kabul were baseless.

“We reject the baseless allegations. The accusatory approach is unhelpful towards efforts for peace. Pakistan has suffered from the menace of terrorism and has made unparalleled sacrifices,” he added.

Zakaria said Pakistan had done more than any other nation in the world in the fight against terrorism. “Pakistan has the highest stakes in peace and stability in Afghanistan. No country gets affected more than Pakistan due to instability in Afghanistan. Pakistan's commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan is, therefore, beyond any doubt,” he added.

The spokesperson said it was disappointing that some elements, who had no interest in peace in Afghanistan and want to damage Pak-Afghan relations, had been maligning Pakistan for their own agenda. “Pakistan, as the most sincere friend and well-wisher of Afghan people, has contributed to the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, whenever requested,” he said.

As Kabul pointed fingers towards Pakistan, Islamabad is set to attend the multilateral Kabul peace conference next week. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had proposed the peace conference which is largely seen as an initiative of the United States. At the June 6 conference – to be participated by the United States, India, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, Germany, France, China, the European Union and the representatives of the United Nations – Pakistan will get a chance to speak its mind and hold meetings on the sidelines.

Zakaria said all recent independent assessments on the situation in Afghanistan suggested that the factors responsible for the deteriorating security situation are internal to Afghanistan.

He referred to many reports in this regard such as UN's Study of 2014, General Nicholson's annual assessment report on Afghanistan, published on December 5, 2016 and US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reports of January 2017.

“These reports have amply identified the risks and obstacles in the way to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan as internal to Afghanistan. Therefore, mere rhetoric of blaming others to hide their failures in Afghanistan will not solve the problem,” he said.

 Zakaria said Afghanistan was in war situation for almost forty years and there were elements active there who are inimical to Pakistan-Afghanistan relations.

“The vacuum created in Afghanistan due to war has given space to those forces which do not want to see peace in the neighbouring counrt. What you do not see is the relationship between the people of the two countries. Millions of Afghans are currently residing in Pakistan besides the refugees, and thousands have been travel across the border daily for ages,” he said.

With Iran, he said: “We also have a common border and relations are very cordial as manifested in the exchange of numerous high-level visits from both sides. Wherever there are common borders, there are issues.”

Zakaria said there was an institutionalised consultative mechanism called Joint Border Commission, which meets periodically to review situation at the border and sort them out amicably.

“There are criminal gangs involved in drug and human trafficking along the Pak-Iran border, which are using the route Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran onward to Europe. It is not about the failure of foreign policy. You have to understand and fully comprehend the dynamics and ground realities. Sovereign countries remained mindful of how they conduct their relations,” he said.

Responding to questions regarding Kashmir dispute, the spokesperson said peace, stability and development will remain elusive in the region without the resolution of the outstanding dispute between Pakistan and India.

He said India was escalating tension on the border and committing ceasefire violations in order to divert attention from the Kashmir dispute. He said the latest Indian unprovoked firing on the line of control resulted in the martyrdom of two civilians and injuries to seven others.

The spokesperson said India was using different tactics to malign the purely indigenous freedom movement of Kashmiri people. He, however, said India will never succeed in its attempts as the movement is being led by the Kashmiri people.

He said Pakistan will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their just struggle for right to self-determination.

Zakaria said the world community should play its due role in resolution of Kashmir dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions.

He said India historically had problems with all its neighbours. “The problem is its hegemonic designs and ambitions. It had also scuttled the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit, which was to be held in Islamabad last year.  India continues to be the problem in South Asia and it has to change its attitude and approach towards all its neighbours to have peace and development,” he said.

Zakaria said Pakistan has always called for amicable settlement of disputes between the countries in this region and beyond in the larger interest of regional peace and stability. India has double standards when it comes to contentious issues.  “To serve its own interests, India would not hesitate in violating even the Security Council Resolutions and International Agreements, which it has signed,” he added.

To a question, the spokesperson said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was a regional connectivity project which will link the Central Asian states, South Asia and the Middle East. He made it clear that the project was not against any other country. He said India itself was inviting investment from different countries in the areas which are under its illegal occupation or are the disputed territories.

Zakaria said India was perpetrating and financing terrorism in Pakistan. He added: “We have caught their agent Kulbhushan Jadhav who has made confession twice in which he admitted that he was sent by his government to destabilise Pakistan.”

He said the Indian media called International Court of Justice’s letter dated May 8, 2017 - the day India filed its petition - to Pakistan as ‘Stay on Kulbhushan Jhadev’s execution.

“This is a lie. ICJ noted that lie. The ICJ stated clearly that its decision on provisional measures was not concerned with jurisdiction/merits. The Court considered that Commander Jadhav would not be executed until the full hearing. This is nothing unusual,” he said.

He said irrespective of ICJ’s stay, Commander Jadhav would remain alive, until he has exhausted the right to request for clemency, initially with the army chief and later with President of Pakistan.

Zakaria said suspicions were created regarding Khawar Qureshi’s competence. You may note that he is consistently rated by the Legal Directories as one of the UK’s top international lawyers.

“He was the youngest advocate to appear in the ICJ in 1993 in the Genocide case (for Bosnia against Serbia). He has undertaken hundreds of cases involving various international governments (US, Russia, Italy, Kazakhstan to name a few) before all levels of the English courts, as well as international arbitral tribunals and the International Court of Justice. He has acted or advised on matters involving around 80 different jurisdictions. As an English Barrister he is bound to represent any client without discrimination,” he added.

About a US military general’s statement that surge in the troops in Afghanistan will be a message for Islamabad, he said, Pakistan has continued to emphasise that “we desire lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan is affected by instability in Afghanistan more than any other country.”

He said the surge of troops in Afghanistan was a decision of the US. “However, as regards peace and stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan has continued to reiterate that it is our desire that concerted efforts should be made for lasting peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan would benefit more from a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan rather than an unstable Afghanistan,” he maintained.

To a question, he said, the residences of Pakistani diplomats and staff members were damaged in the Kabul attack while some of them also received injuries.