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ISLAMABAD: The civil and military leadership reiterated Pakistan’s commitment for an inclusive political settlement as the way forward by giving representation to all Afghan ethnic groups, and urged the world community to work together towards this end, a day after Taliban announced an end to the war after taking control of Kabul on Monday.

To contemplate upon the emerging situation in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), which was attended by senior cabinet members and services chiefs.

“The participants were briefed on latest developments in Afghanistan and their possible impact on Pakistan and the region. The overall security situation in the region was also discussed,” said a statement issued after the meeting.

It stated that the NSC noted that Pakistan is a victim of the decades long conflict in Afghanistan and therefore, desired peace and stability in the neighbourhood.

“It was emphasized that the world must recognise the sacrifices made by Pakistan [for] over four decades,” it asserted.

Pakistan committed to inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan: NSC

“The participants reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to an inclusive political settlement as the way forward representing all Afghan ethnic groups. It was reaffirmed that Pakistan would continue to work with the international community and all Afghan stakeholders to facilitate an inclusive political settlement in the country,” the statement stated, adding that it was stressed that the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan must be adhered to. It added that the NSC noted positively that major violence had been averted thus far and called on all parties in Afghanistan to respect the rule of law, protect fundamental human rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghan soil is not used by any terrorist organization or group against any country.

It further stated that 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/NATO troops were at maximum military strength in Afghanistan,” it stated.

“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,” the NSC noted.The statement added that 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 and the region.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also directed that all possible facilities be made available to repatriate Pakistanis, diplomats, journalists and staff of international organisations seeking to leave Afghanistan, it stated, adding that the prime minister lauded the ongoing efforts of the Pakistan embassy in Kabul and the state machinery in this regard.

The meeting of the NSC comes a day after Taliban took over Kabul upon escape of President Ashraf Ghani from Afghanistan.Opposition political parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), have demanded a joint sitting of the parliament to be briefed on the emerging situation.

The Taliban, meanwhile, announced an end to the war in Afghanistan after taking control of the country’s capital and important government buildings, including the presidential palace.

In a video message released on Monday, Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Baradar Akhund, together with senior leadership, congratulated the group’s fighters and the Afghan people on the victory.

Important to closely coordinate next steps: FM tells Afghan delegation

“Now it’s time to test and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and ensure security and comfort of life,” he said, asking the Taliban fighters to avoid arrogance and serve the Afghans now. In a statement, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that the situation in Kabul is under control and the Taliban have captured some outlaws involved in looting and disorder in the city.

“No one is allowed to enter the homes of former government officials and to demand their cars and threaten them. Those found involved in such activities would be dealt with strictly,” the spokesman warned.Suhail Shaheen, Taliban’s spokesperson for international media in Doha, in a statement on Monday “assured the foreign diplomats, embassies, consulates, and charitable workers, whether they are international or national that not only no problem will be created for them on the part of IEA but a secure environment will be provided to them.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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