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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan is not supportive of a military takeover in Afghanistan, as Taliban took control of more Afghan territories, including three provincial capitals in a single day on Monday.

Speaking at a news conference, Qureshi warned that the Afghan government would be responsible if the peace talks failed, adding that Pakistan should not be scapegoating for the failures of “others” in Afghanistan.

He asserted that peace in Afghanistan is a shared responsibility and the international community cannot shy away from it, adding that Pakistan will continue to play its effective role in the Afghan peace process, despite “harsh” statements by the Afghan leadership.

“We won’t let some harsh statements to block our desire to attain peace and stability,” the foreign minister said.

He also referred to the role of “spoilers”, saying that Pakistan had repeatedly expressed its concern at the role of “spoilers” both within and outside. “There are elements who don’t want to see peace and stability, and they want to keep Pakistan in a sandwiched position for continuation of their own ambitions for power,” he said without naming any.

Qureshi further said that Pakistan has repeatedly urged Afghan leadership against pointing fingers, adding that he had invited the Afghan counterpart to visit Islamabad for holding candid discussions and find a solution if they had any issue.

“We have also urged the Afghan government to refrain from the blame game and engage with Pakistan in a meaningful manner under the already established mechanism to address the challenges to peace and security in the region,” he said, adding that Pakistan also made it clear on many occasions that it has no favourites in Afghanistan.

“We see all sides of the conflict as Afghans,” he said, adding that scapegoating Pakistan for the failures of “others” was unfortunate.

He said that the issues of governance and meltdown of Afghan security forces needs to be looked into, instead of simply pointing fingers at Pakistan.

Without naming any, the foreign minister also regretted that an elected-member of the parliament had given a statement “which can only serve the Indian interests”.

Qureshi pointed out that the peace process in Afghanistan is at a critical juncture and it is important that all energies are focused at finding an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement through a process that is Afghan-led and Afghan owned.

“It’s for the Afghans to decide about their own future,” he said, adding that Pakistan has consistently been advocating that there is no military solution to the conflict and a negotiated political solution is the only way forward.

To a question, he said that Pakistan is advocating responsible and orderly withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan in such a manner where there is left no security vacuum.

Stable Afghanistan inevitable for regional peace: FM

Asked about Pakistan’s positon if Taliban establish its rule through force in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said that Pakistan is not supportive of a military takeover in Afghanistan because that would result in a lot of bloodshed.

He pointed out that the situation is evolving and things have not been managed well. “I think the world should ponder and see the amount of money spent. Where has it gone? The lack of will to fight that we have seen in Afghanistan. Can we be held responsible for that? No, we cannot and we should not be,” he asserted, adding: “One day the Americans and British citizens would raise the question as to where the taxpayers’ money, amounting trillions of dollars, was spent.”

Referring to Pakistan’s important role in Afghan peace process, he said that the country played an instrumental role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table and facilitated the US-Taliban peace agreement in February 2020 in Doha.

He also pointed out that Pakistan helped convene the intra-Afghan negotiations in September 2020, while in December 2020, Pakistan contributed to the rules of procedure agreed between the parties.

Besides, he added that Pakistan has joined the “Troika Plus, involving US, Russia, China to facilitate the intra-Afghan talks and the Doha process. He also stated that Pakistan looks forward to the forthcoming meeting of the “Troika Plus” on Wednesday in Doha.

He pointed out that Pakistan had invited Afghan leaders minus the Taliban to a conference in Islamabad to discuss the way forward, adding that the moot was postponed on President Ashraf Ghani’s request.

He also shared Pakistan’s concerns over the human rights violations in Afghanistan and urged all the sides to show respect for human rights and international humanitarian laws.

To a query, he said that Pakistan will not allow the use of its soil against Afghanistan.

Qureshi said that the US and the UK governments instructions to its citizens to leave Afghanistan could be a no-confidence in Afghan government.

“Isn’t it a show of no-confidence in Afghan government, if the US and the UK have asked its citizens to leave Afghanistan?” he asked.

The foreign minister also regretted that the UN Security Council (UNSC) under the presidency of India for this month did not allow Pakistan to participate in the Council’s discussion on Afghanistan.

He said that India was in breach of its obligation as the UNSC’s president as it denied Pakistan’s request to brief the forum on the situation and its role in Afghanistan. He stated that India did not behave in a manner that was befitting of that responsibility.

He said that Pakistan should have been invited to the UNSC’s meeting on Afghanistan as the country was not only a neighbour, but it has suffered the most after Afghanistan.

He also said that an Afghan representative had propagated disinformation and levelled baseless allegations against Pakistan to mislead the international community. “We reject those baseless accusations,” Qureshi added.

To another query, he said that the investigation into Dasu bus attack has been completed and Pakistan is in consultations with China about the findings of the terror attack. He said that the findings would soon be released to the media.

He further said that those who cannot see China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to succeed are behind targeting its projects time and again, “but they cannot prevent the project from its successful completion.”

About the investigation into the alleged kidnapping of Afghan envoy’s daughter, he said that Pakistan has shared its findings with the visiting Afghan delegation and cooperated with them on all aspects. He said that Pakistani investigators have also sought access to the envoy’s daughter and asked for some other information, adding that the Afghan side needs to cooperate in this regard.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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