NEW DELHI: Afghanistan today backed India's surgical strikes on terror launch pads in PoK, terming it as an act of "self-defence", and in a strong message to Pakistan asserted that time has come to take "tough" and "risky" decisions to deal with the menace of terrorism.
Afghanistan's Ambassador to India Shaida Abdali said his country does not make distinction between terrorist groups and is against all such organisations that pose a danger and threat to any country in the world.
When asked about Afghanistan's stand on the surgical strikes undertaken by India in PoK, Abdali told reporters at The Foreign Correspondents' Club of South Asia,"We hope that no one will allow its territory as a safe haven for terrorists to be used against neighbouring countries."
"If terrorist groups continue to exist without action, no wonder self-defence against such terrorist groups will be in the form of action that we saw," he said, referring to the surgical strikes conducted by India on seven terror launch pads across the LoC with the Army inflicting "significant casualties" on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Abdali said it was "high time we take tough decisions" and they may be "risky" but are needed to be taken to end terrorism.
He said such decisions may have a cost but the cost is worth it because "we have to end this continued terrorism that affects our people, our lives every day and is taking our vision backward day by day."
"We have to fight a phenomenon that is going to inflict us in a much bigger way....the core is that we have to act. The problem that we have is that it is increasingly taking our lives so at whatever cost, we have to end it," Abdali said.
After India, Afghanistan was among three other countries which pulled out of the SAARC summit to be hosted by Pakistan.
In a terse statement Afghanistan said, "Due to the increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, the President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with his responsibilities as the Commander in Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the Summit."
The Afghan envoy said he can see Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking "bold decisions" and emphasised that there was a need for the leaderships in the region and the governments to take bold decisions and "risks in order to free ourselves (from terrorism) for good".
Asked about the situation in Balochistan and the human rights violations there, Abdali said, "We have a problem of terrorism and Balochistan is our neighbour. We are being affected from our neighbourhood. Terrorism exists and at the same time people suffer there."
"We want to fight terrorism for the sake of all of us. For the sake of the common people of Pakistan, for the Balochis there and for all others living there, especially the Pashtuns. So we would like to end the atrocity, the wars in whatever forms there may be in order for the people to live freely," the Afghan envoy said.
Asked about India contemplating giving asylum to Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti, Abdali said, it is "up to India to give asylum to an outsider".
"I fully sympathise with the people of Balochistan, who are suffereing. There is a war going on...We should speak for all human beings. Its a human rights issue. We hope that the people of Balochistan will have a peaceful life and a free life," he said.
Asked about four countries -- India, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh -- pulling out of the SAARC Summit in Islamabad, he said the environment is "not conducive" to convening the conference when terrorism was "at its peak".
"Being selective against terrorism, and that continues to exist, can make those who are affected to decide whether we should continue our business as usual or whether we should think and rethink on our approach to regional affairs or the mechanism that we have, especially SAARC," Abdali said.
"Afghanistan, because of the evolving security situation that is very serious, will not be able to attend," he said.
When asked about Pakistan's denial of surgical strikes and also its refusal to acknowledge the evidence on Pakistan- based groups' involvement in terror attacks on Indian defence installations like in Uri and Pathankot, Abdali said, the sharing of evidence was a bilateral issue between the two countries. He, however, acknowledged there was "no doubt" that "the double standard approach" vis-a-vis terrorism continues.
"We hope that the approach of denial will end and we come out (on) how we deal with terrorism, whether we are sincere in the war against terrorism. Unfortunately, that sincerity is not there. The fact of denial has been there for a long time. We hope we come clean and there is no doubt that the deception in terms of war against terrorism will not be accepted forever," he said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan."
"Time has come we come clean and we make sure, based on evidence, that we act in collaboration with South Asian and all other international partners with sincerity," he said.
Noting that with regard to terrorism "patience is wearing thin nowadays", the Afghan envoy said it is high time that India and Afghanistan "reviewed" their relations with countries.
"As peaceful nation, we are trying our best to have good neighbourly relations but let me be frank here that goodwill has not been reciprocated so far," Abdali said, in another obvious reference to Pakistan.
Seeking a change of approach towards terrorism, Abdali said it is important to take along the international community because terrorism is a global phenomenon and not a regional issue. He said there was a need to raise this issue at global fora, including the UN.
"Business as usual (approach) is going to harm all of us," Abdali said.
He stated that Afghanistan has suffered because of terrorist groups from "across the border" and feels the pain in a similar way as India.
"We understand how difficult it is to see continued violence inflicted on the people in a nation. Afghanistan, prior to 9/11 warned the world that terrorism...will not be only affecting Afghanistan forever, that this will have spillover effects on the region and beyond," he said.
"We have to be together to go against any element...not just one country, but if there is safe sanctuary (for terrorists) in any other country, we have to go against them," the envoy said.