- Foreign minister says Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades
- Asks international community to prevent India from playing a negative role in Afghanistan
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday that Pakistan wants to adopt a joint strategy on Afghanistan after consultation with important countries of the region.
The foreign minister said that since he was in Tajikistan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, he wanted to utilize the opportunity to discuss Afghanistan's volatile situation with important countries of the region, who were also monitoring the situation.
“As Pakistan is fulfilling its responsibilities, the improved situation in Afghanistan will benefit all. If God forbids, the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, all will be affected,” Qureshi said in a statement from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.
Qureshi said that he had held detailed discussions with his counterparts from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan on the situation in Afghanistan, and also expected to meet with the Foreign Ministers of China and Russia. He also noted that India was disturbing regional peace by playing the role of a spoiler in Afghanistan.
The foreign minister urged the international community to prevent India from playing a negative role, adding that New Delhi should also let Afghanistan live with peace.
He emphasised that Afghanistan’s neighboring countries would be affected badly if the security situation deteriorated in the country, adding it was a golden opportunity to take the consultative process forward.
He mentioned that Pakistan was the only country, which, despite its limited resources, was hosting 3 million Afghan refugees for many decades.
However, he stated that if the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated again, Pakistan would not afford to welcome more refugees. He said that it was Pakistan’s obligation to remain cautious as some anti-Pakistan elements can enter the country under the guise of Afghan refugees.
Qureshi added that Pakistan wanted to help Afghanistan on humanitarian grounds but also wanted to ensure the safety and security of its people.
The minister said that Pakistan, by sacrificing 70,000 lives and suffering huge economic losses, had paid a heavy price in the war against terrorism.
In his remarks, Qureshi said that Pakistan desired sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan. "How long will fingers be pointed towards Pakistan?" he questioned.
“We invite the important Afghan personalities for dialogue. Afghan leaders should sit and tell how we can help them,” he added.