- Foreign minister says, as things stand at the moment, there is no reason why Afghans cannot stay in Afghanistan
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan's position is Afghanistan citizens stay within their country, and that they are provided security and safety.
In an interview with UK-based The Independent, which was shared by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan on Wednesday, Qureshi stressed that there was no need for people to flee Afghanistan as the country was “peaceful and stable”.
"We don't have the capacity to absorb more ... so our position is that they (Afghans) stay in Afghanistan and are provided security and safety and as things stand at the moment, I see no reason why they can't stay in Afghanistan," he said.
Talking about the the number of Afghan refugees trying to cross into Pakistan, he said there had been “no rush” on Pakistan’s borders.
“We have our limitations. [Pakistan has] been hosting over three million, almost close to four million refugees for so many decades without any international help or assistance. We do not have the capacity to absorb more, honestly,” he said.
He added that any processing facility where Afghan citizens can apply for asylum should be in Afghanistan. “It has to be over there – that is where they belong, that is their country,” he added.
He emphasised that the international community should consider economic assistance for Afghanistan. “Isolation will not help. It will lead to a humanitarian crisis, it will lead to an economic collapse, and it will create space for elements that have not been helpful for you, me, or anyone.
“Anarchy, chaos will facilitate their presence there. Don’t do that. Engagement, we feel, is a better option. If [the Taliban] are saying positive things, nudge them in that direction. Do not push them into a corner.”
One of the first steps, he said, was delivering immediate aid. “There should be no strings attached, there should be no political conditions attached to humanitarian assistance,” the top diplomat added.
Qureshi said Pakistan had received verbal assurances from the Afghan Taliban that they would not allow any group to stage terror attacks on Pakistan from Afghanistan, but he added that Islamabad was waiting to see “if they act on what they’ve said”.
Qureshi maintained that the behaviour of the new Taliban leadership was “quite distinct and different” from that seen in the 1990s, saying that, for example, protests in Kabul had “by and large been tolerated”.
“These are initial signs which are not discouraging. Let’s see if this is the direction that they follow,” he said.
The foreign minister said Pakistan was concerned about the reports of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) figures being released from prisons in recent weeks in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan..
"If those guys come and start creating problems for us over here, it will affect innocent lives and we don't want that," he said, referring to the TTP.