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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office told a parliamentary panel on Wednesday that Pakistan’s decision about recognising Taliban government in Afghanistan would be based on practical actions on their promises such as respecting fundamental human rights, treatment of the women, and preventing Afghan soil to be used by terror outfits against any other country.

Aamar Aftab Qureshi, Additional Secretary Afghanistan/West Asia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, briefed the National Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs about Pakistan’s policy with regard to the current situation in Afghanistan, which was chaired by Malik Mohammad Ehsan Ullah Tiwana.

During the briefing, Qureshi said that Pakistan is facilitating the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned efforts towards an inclusive political settlement, having representation of all the ethnic groups.

He said that an inclusive and representative political settlement was important not only to prevent a civil war in Afghanistan, but also for recognition by the international community.

“We believe that there should be a structure of political set up, acceptable to all Afghans and not necessarily for the West or any other country,” Qureshi said, adding that a Western-type parliamentary democracy might not be possible in the Afghan tribal society where the people of Afghanistan give more importance to their traditional jirga system than anything else.

Responding to queries by the committee members, the senior official of the Foreign Office said that all the neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan has serious concerns with regard to the possible use of Afghan soil by any terror outfit, including the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). “The announcement made by Taliban spokesman very clear that they would never allow any terror organisation to use Afghanistan’s soil for terrorism against any other country. Let’s see how they honour their commitment,” Qureshi added.

On the question of recognition of the Taliban government, he said that Pakistan is currently pursuing the policy of “wait and see” and such a decision about recognition will be taken together with the international community.

“The decision [about recognition] would be based on action on the ground over the promises Taliban have made, particularly with regard to fundamental human rights, treatment of the women, international laws and preventing Afghan soil to be used by terrorist outfit against other countries,” he asserted, adding that Pakistan and the international community are monitoring all these things and the progress on these would lead to a decision to recognise the government that should be an inclusive, representative and acceptable to all Afghans.

However, he clarified that having engagement with Afghanistan does not mean recognition of the Taliban government, adding that Pakistan believes that the international community should remain engaged, and Afghanistan and its people should not be left alone at this critical time.

About the situation in Panjshir valley, he said that Pakistan believes that both the sides should resolve the issue peacefully, “as some countries and individuals are playing the role of spoilers, who do not see peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

The senior Foreign Office official said that Taliban have so far shown maturity with wisdom due to which there are feelings among the people that the Taliban have changed from what they were in the 1990s. Further updating the panel on the situation in Afghanistan, he said that Taliban are facing serious challenges in running the country’s affairs, as banks are closed, the US has frozen accounts of the Afghanistan Central Bank and the country’s foreign accounts due to which the coming government would be facing more serious problems.

He said that Afghanistan may also face petrol crisis in the coming days, while another serious issue is of those skilled and educated Afghans, who are leaving Afghanistan, despite Taliban’s appeal to them to stay in the country.

He said that so far 120,000 people have been internally displaced and according to the UNHCR, a majority of them are now returning to their homes. Hina Rabbani Khar, committee member and former foreign minister, while speaking, asked the government functionaries to exercise extreme caution and to avoid becoming the spokespersons of the Taliban.

“Let’s not make any mistake… Let Shuhail Shaheen [Taliban spokesman] play that role, so as to build Pakistan’s international credibility [as a neutral actor],” she said.

The committee called for early formulation of the Afghan government to avoid ambiguity among Afghans and to negate the chances of their massive movement.

The committee also appreciated the establishment of Special Cell in Ministry of Interior to evacuate the people especially foreigners from Afghanistan and they were able to evacuate 4,571 persons so far. The committee was also informed that Pakistan would resume PIA flights from Pakistan to Kabul to evacuate maximum people from Afghanistan.

The committee also appreciated the current visit of the foreign minister to the neighbouring countries to build consensus on the Afghan issue in order to extend due support for formulation of an Afghan government which would be acceptable to all Afghans to prevent any possible civil war in Afghanistan.

Moreover, the committee appreciated the general amnesty of Taliban for Afghans and allowing them especially women to restart their routine life, which is a good gesture and appreciated at all forums.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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