ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Monday, hoped that the future government in Afghanistan would act upon Pakistan's genuine concerns over the presence of terrorists associated with proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its splinter groups on Afghan soil, as Pakistan reportedly shared a list of "most wanted terrorists" with the Taliban recently to be handed over to Islamabad for their involvement in terrorism in the country.

Speaking at a news conference, the foreign minister neither confirmed nor denied the reports of handing over the list of "most wanted terrorists" to the Afghan Taliban, saying that many TTP members are wanted to Pakistan who have been involved in terrorism in the country and in killing of innocent people.

"We've genuine concerns...They [TTP] need to be eliminated...We expect the Afghan leadership that would assumes responsibility in the near future in Afghanistan would keep an eye not only on the TTP, but on all terrorist outfits," he asserted, adding that the Taliban have stated that they would not allow Afghanistan's soil to be used against any other country.

He further stated that Pakistan thinks for the betterment of Afghanistan and its people, adding the country also expects the same from the future Afghan leadership to not allow anti-Pakistan elements to be operated from across the border. He further stated that Pakistan does not see Afghanistan to become a safe haven for any terrorist outfit.

Updating the media of the latest situation in Afghanistan, Qureshi said that negotiations are underway among the Afghan groups for an inclusive political settlement, adding that Pakistan is facilitating efforts for creating an inclusive interim set up, having representation of all the ethnic groups.

He said that Pakistan is extending every possible facilitation to fill the security vacuum created in Afghanistan and urged the international community, especially the neighbouring countries to remain engaged with a view to put in place an inclusive future set up forthwith.

"Currently, there is a vacuum in Afghanistan. Pakistan desires that the vacuum is filled as soon as possible so that the spoilers do not get benefit of the situation. We expect the neighbouring countries that they would help us in advancing the ongoing talks among the Afghans to a logical conclusion," he asserted.

"We are facilitating the efforts for an inclusive interim set up, having representation of all ethnic groups in Afghanistan. Our role towards this end is being recognised," Qureshi said.

Qureshi said that he would leave on a four-nation visit today (Tuesday) including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran, aimed at sharing Pakistan's perspective and hearing their assessments about the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, he added that China is also an important regional country to be consulted on the situation.

He said that he would also discuss the potential influx of refugees, the Covid-19, and other issues during his visit to the regional countries.

The foreign minister further stated that consultations are also underway within Troika Plus, involving Pakistan, the United States, China, and Russia, on the future set up in Afghanistan.

"Pakistan desires that international community should continue its engagement [with Taliban]," he said, adding that important world countries are already in talks with them.

However, he added although there is a trust deficit of the past, yet Pakistan continues to make efforts for the smooth transition in Afghanistan.

To another question about the clashes between Taliban and forces loyal to Ahmad Massoud, the son of former Afghan veteran warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud, in Panjshir valley, Qureshi said that Pakistan hopes that the situation in Panjshir resolves peacefully.

"This is the real test of the Afghan leadership to show maturity at this critical juncture and resolve the issue peacefully," he said, adding that Ahmad Massoud's statements about negotiation are encouraging.

To another query, he said that the entire world wants peace in Afghanistan, but it is unfortunate that India is playing the role of a spoiler. He said that India and the Indian media should demonstrate a responsible approach for peace in Afghanistan.

In response to another query, he said that relations with the US are "quite good" and he remained in contact with his American counterpart, as the two countries have a common objective of restoration of peace in Afghanistan.

He also updated the media about the evacuation operation by Pakistan, saying that Pakistan is providing all possible assistance for safe evacuation of foreign nationals, diplomats, media persons, and members of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) from Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan embassy in Kabul is working round the clock and the embassy staff is in contact with the Afghan people and the concerned officials to ensure security and safe transportation of people, who intend to leave Afghanistan.

So far, he added that 542 foreign nationals and 91 Pakistani citizens have been evacuated through five PIA flights.

In addition to that, he added that Pakistan granted 56 permissions of over flights, including landing facility to various international airlines, which conducted around 133 sorties.

He said that Pakistan is trying to facilitate movement of evacuees and a facilitation center has been established at the Islamabad Airport; besides, setting up a Crisis Cell at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for this purpose.

Pakistan has facilitated nationals of 22 countries, he said, adding that 3,234 foreign nationals, including 300 Pakistani citizens, members of INGOs, and 293 officials of the World Bank have so far been evacuated from Afghanistan.

He said that Pakistan is also granting on arrival visas to foreign nationals and so far, 409 people have benefited from the facility, adding that situation in Kabul is calm, but certainly there is a pressure around the Kabul airport.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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