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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, on Friday, raised the issue of keeping Pakistan in the “red list” by the UK with his British counterpart Dominic Raab and hoped that Britain will review its decision keeping the improvement in Pakistan’s coronavirus situation.

The UK government earlier decided to retain Pakistan on its travel 'red list' after the latest review that took place on Thursday.

Meanwhile, according to a statement of the Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Qureshi held telephonic conversation with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and exchanged views on bilateral relations, the evolving situation in Afghanistan and regional security.

UK retains Pakistan on its travel red list as efforts go in vain

The foreign minister briefed his British counterpart about his recent interactions with his counterparts from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and the European Union about the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

“All the assessments regarding Afghanistan proved to be wrong…The sudden change in Afghanistan was a surprise to everyone,” Qureshi said.

He also strongly condemned the terrorist attacks at Kabul Airport on Thursday, which resulted in loss of many precious lives.

He told his British counterpart that the statements made by the Taliban regarding the end of the war, the declaration of amnesty, the protection of human rights, and not allowing the use of Afghan territory against anyone, are encouraging.

For Pakistan, being a close neighbor, a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is of paramount importance, Qureshi said, adding that at the moment, there is a need to ensure the security of Afghans and the protection of their rights.

He further said that Pakistan supports inclusive, comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan, adding that the international community should not repeat the mistakes of the past and they should not abandon Afghanistan.

Qureshi also updated his British counterpart about the evacuation process from Afghanistan, saying that Pakistan is providing full support for the early evacuation of diplomatic staff, workers of international organisations, and media representatives from various countries including the United Kingdom, awaiting their departure from Afghanistan.

According to the statement, the foreign minister also raised the issue of the “red list” with the British foreign secretary and apprised him of the hardship being faced by the British Pakistanis and students.

“We expect the British government to reconsider its decision of keeping Pakistan on the “red list”, in view of the improvement in Covid-19 situation in the country,” Qureshi said.

Appreciating Pakistan’s assistance in evacuating British nationals from Kabul, the British foreign secretary thanked Foreign Minister Qureshi and the Pakistani leadership, the statement added.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Qureshi received a telephone call from the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG), Antonio Guterres.

The two leaders exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored that Pakistan will continue to play its constructive role in support of the efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The foreign minister appreciated the contribution of the United Nations in addressing the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. He noted that it was imperative for the international community to remain engaged with Afghanistan, including by supporting the Afghan people’s socio-economic and humanitarian needs.

UNSG Guterres expressed gratitude for Pakistan’s role in facilitating the work and humanitarian mission of the UN entities in Afghanistan.

He sought Pakistan’s continued support in that regard.

The foreign minister assured Guterres of all possible support to the UN in the fulfilment of its mandate.

He highlighted the facilitation being provided by Pakistan to the international community in evacuation and relocation efforts.

The foreign minister reaffirmed that Pakistan will continue to assist the UN in all possible ways.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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