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Pakistan

Pakistan committed to inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan: NSC

  • National Security Committee says principle of non-interference in Afghanistan must be adhered to
  • Meeting convened in the backdrop of Taliban's takeover of Kabul and the looming uncertainty over the political and security situation in Afghanistan
16 Aug, 2021

Pakistan's civil and military leadership reaffirmed that Islamabad is committed to playing its part in facilitating "inclusive political settlement" in Afghanistan, adding that the way forward for Kabul is to ensure the representation of "all ethnic groups".

The policy statement issued following the National Security Committee meeting on Monday also noted that "Pakistan was a victim" of the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan and therefore, desired peace and stability in the neighborhood.

The meeting emphasised that the world must recognise the sacrifices made by Pakistan over four decades.

The meeting was summoned by Prime Minister Imran Khan in the backdrop of the Afghan Taliban's takeover of Kabul and the looming uncertainty over the political and security situation in Afghanistan, which could have implications for Pakistan and the wider region.

Taliban declare 'war is over' as president and diplomats flee Kabul

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Imran, and attended by senior cabinet members and services chiefs.

Participants were briefed on the latest developments in Afghanistan and their possible impact. The overall security situation in the region was also discussed in the meeting.

The Afghan Taliban on Monday declared the war in Afghanistan was over after the group took control of the presidential palace in Kabul.

"Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years," Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban's political office, told Al Jazeera TV.

Important to closely coordinate next steps: FM tells Afghan delegation

Naeem said the form of the new regime in Afghanistan would be made clear soon, adding the Taliban did not want to live in isolation and called for peaceful international relations.

President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday as the Taliban entered the capital virtually unopposed, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed, while hundreds of Afghans desperate to leave flooded Kabul airport.

It took the Taliban just over a week to seize control of the country after a swift sweep ended in Kabul as Afghan forces, trained for years and equipped by the United States and others at a cost of billions of dollars, melted away.

The NSC statement added that Pakistan would continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure an inclusive political settlement.

"It was stressed that the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan must be adhered to," read the press release issued following the meeting.

The NSC noted that major violence had been averted so far, calling on all parties involved in Afghanistan to respect the rule of law, protect the fundamental human rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghan soil is not used by any terrorist organization and group against any country.

During the meeting, PM Imran directed all relevant authorities that all possible facilities be made available to repatriate Pakistanis, diplomats, journalists, and staff of international organizations that are seeking to leave Afghanistan.

The premier also lauded the ongoing efforts of the Pakistan embassy in Kabul and the work of other state institutions in this regard.

The NSC reiterated Pakistan’s stance that the conflict in Afghanistan never had a military solution. "The ideal time to end the conflict through negotiations might have been when the US and NATO troops were at maximum military strength in Afghanistan," it said.

The NSC said that the continuation of foreign military presence for a longer duration now would "not have yielded a different outcome".

"Therefore, endorsement by the Biden administration of the previous US administration’s decision of troops withdrawal is indeed a logical conclusion to this conflict.

"It is now time for the international community to work together to ensure an inclusive political settlement for long term peace, security and development of Afghanistan/ the region," added the statement.

National Security Committee to take up Afghan situation on Monday

Earlier in the day, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf told reporters that Pakistan is supporting everyone in Afghanistan, adding that Islamabad is not talking about anyone’s victory or defeat.

Addressing the impending concern of the refugee crisis in Afghanistan, which could potentially put the burden on Pakistan, Yusuf said there is “no refugee crisis as of yet” and the “situation appears to be stable” there.

He assured everyone that we are working overtime to evacuate Pakistanis from Kabul. “A special cell has been established in the Ministry of Interior to facilitate visas,” he added.

Yusuf further noted that no one has blamed Pakistan for the Afghan situation.

Islamabad has no favourites in Afghanistan: PM

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told an Afghan delegation earlier on Monday that it is important to closely coordinate the next steps for the benefit of Afghanistan and the region.

"We hope that all Afghan leaders will make efforts [for peace] in the larger interest of the country," the foreign minister said, adding that Pakistan was committed to playing a constructive role in the restoration of peace in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office said on Sunday that Pakistan was closely following the situation in Afghanistan and would continue to support efforts for a political settlement. “We hope all Afghan sides will work together to resolve this internal crisis”, Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in a Twitter post.

He said the Pakistan embassy in Kabul was extending all necessary support to Pakistanis, Afghan nationals and others for consular work and coordination of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights.

Britain's Foreign Minister Dominic Raab on Sunday also spoke with FM Qureshi to discuss the Afghan situation.

"Shared my deep concerns about the future for Afghanistan with FM Qureshi. Agreed it is critical that the international community is united in telling the Taliban that the violence must end and human rights must be protected," Raab wrote on Twitter.

Pakistan has maintained that it is not supportive of a military takeover in Afghanistan, and sees all sides in the Afghan conflict as Afghans. Islamabad has continued to emphasize that Afghans have to decide their future.

For months, Islamabad has also called for a responsible and orderly withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan. The country fears that if a vacuum is left due to an abrupt withdrawal of the international troops, militants will fill it.

US president Biden is under fire for a hasty and unilateral withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. However, Biden has strongly defended his decision to pull US military forces out of Afghanistan, saying the Afghan people must decide their own future, rather than sacrificing another generation of Americans in an unwinnable war.

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