- Foreign Minister says as a responsible country, Pakistan is working to ensure the safety and security of everyone
- Expects that Afghanistan's future govt would keep an eye on not just the TTP, but on all terrorist organizations using Afghan soil
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi revealed on Monday that Pakistan has "facilitated the evacuation of 3,234 foreign nationals," including employees of international organisations since the start of the country's evacuation efforts that began on August 16.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad to share information on Pakistan's evacuation operations from Afghanistan, FM Qureshi assured the international community that as a responsible country, Pakistan will continue to be supportive as "our purpose is to ensure safety and security of everyone."
The foreign minister informed reporters that Pakistan has set up an inter-ministerial coordination cell at the ministry of interior to offer a quick response and to accelerate all evacuation-related requests.
"The cell has been in operation since the August 16," he said, adding that "representatives from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Civil Aviation Authority, FIA, ISI, and Islamabad Police are working jointly to coordinate all efforts."
Explaining Pakistan's objectives through these operations, he said that we are trying to facilitate the "movement of all evacuees whether they are coming by land or air."
"We have also established a facilitation center at the Islamabad International Airport. This facilitation has the representation of all relevant stakeholders and they are monitoring arrivals and departures," he told reporters.
Talking about the evacuation process, Qureshi said that since August 16, five evacuation flights of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have operated between Islamabad and Kabul.
"On these flights, we have brought back 542 foreign nationals and 91 Pakistani nationals," he noted.
Qureshi revealed that Pakistan has also been permitting overflight to different airlines. "So far 56 such permissions have been given," he said, adding that we are also offering "landing permission" to airlines.
However, he noted that we could not give "blanket permission" to all airlines, but we have shared with everyone that we will facilitate all requests to make it easier for them.
Giving details of the number of airlines that have benefited from Pakistan's landing permission, Qureshi said that 17 foreign airlines have undertaken 133 sorties to carry people out of Kabul.
"Nationals of 28 countries have benefited from the facility that Pakistani is providing," he added.
Talking about the employees of international organisations, he said that the World Bank is one institution whose officials have benefited from Pakistan's evacuation efforts. "We have successfully evacuated 293 World Bank officials based in Afghanistan," he noted.
Answering a question regarding the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Qureshi said that they should give up what they have been doing.
"We expect that leadership that will evolve and assumes responsibility in the near future in Afghanistan would keep an eye on not just the TTP, but on all terrorist organizations," he emphasized.
He further added that our cross-border terror concerns are "genuine and our expectations are also natural."
"We would not want to see Afghanistan become a safe haven for any terrorist outfit," he said.
Earlier today, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that the Afghan Taliban have assured Islamabad that the proscribed TTP will not be allowed to use Afghanistan soil against Pakistan.
Last week, outgoing Foreign Office Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri had said that the issue of the use of Afghan soil by the TTP for terrorist activities in Pakistan was raised with the previous Afghan government. "We will continue raising the issue with the future Afghan government as well to ensure that TTP is not provided any space in Afghanistan to operate against Pakistan," added Chaudhri.
The TTP, believed to be hiding in bordering areas of Afghanistan, continue to attack Pakistani security forces. The outlawed militant group claimed responsibility for the recent attack in Tirah Valley of Khyber district in which two FC personnel lost their lives, besides releasing a video featuring training of its militants in an undisclosed hilly area while urging militant outfits to join their ranks.