ISLAMABAD: The acting Foreign Minister of the interim Afghan government Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Friday that currently, there is no anti-Pakistan group operating inside Afghanistan, and hoped that the ongoing talks between the government of Pakistan and proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) will bear positive results.
Speaking at the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI), the visiting Afghan minister said that there has been progress in the talks between the Government of Pakistan and the TTP, and a ceasefire has also been confirmed by both sides.
“There has been positive development in the talks and we hope the ongoing dialogues bear a positive outcome for which sincerity on both sides is necessary,” he emphasised.
He further stated: “Today, there is no anti-Pakistan group operating inside Afghanistan. We are trying our best not to allow Afghan soil to be used against anyone and that peace should prevail.”
His response came when he was asked about the presence of proscribed Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and other militants groups, including the TTP present in Afghanistan that have used the Afghan soil for launching the terror attacks inside Pakistan.
“We must not be a prisoner of the past, peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan and vice versa,” Muttaqi further stated.
He also shed light on the new developments in Afghanistan and talked about the foreign policy of Afghanistan and specifically relations with Pakistan.
He said the developments in Afghanistan were peaceful due to the support of the people and in the city of Kabul, “as not a single drop of blood was shed.”
He further said that with the Taliban’s takeover, there was comprehensive peace throughout Afghanistan, adding: “the refugees coming out of Afghanistan are economic refugees as is the case in the other parts of the world.”
He also maintained that the new government in Afghanistan does not pursue a policy of revenge.
“We have made it clear that we will not allow the territory of Afghanistan to be used against any country, including our immediate neighbours. There exists a problem internationally in defining certain words - one such word is terrorism. We are now pursuing a balanced policy and we do not want our country to be a ground of conflict for major powers and joint efforts can lead to stability,” he added.
Due to the unique placement of Afghanistan geographically, he added that it can serve as a point of connectivity for the entire region.
“We are making efforts so that trade can be resumed between Pakistan and Central Asia which will benefit Afghanistan as well. We also look forward to good bilateral trade with Pakistan,” he said.
About the international community’s demands, he said that they are working on the reforms that the international community wants to be taken “peacefully, but not through pressure tactics.”
He said Afghanistan for the first time in 43 years has a “central, responsible and sovereign” government, which controls every inch of the territory of Afghanistan.
“We, in Afghanistan have a historic opportunity to create a win-win situation for everyone. The new developments have opened new opportunities for stability as the backbone of prosperity,” he said.
He added that a lot of things are coming out of the international media with the intention of “destroying our image.”
He maintained that 500,000 civil servants who were previously not being paid for months are now being paid.
“We have not fired anyone due to their political views,” he added.
“Not a single woman has been fired or their salaries cut. Afghanistan has around 3,000 clinics and hospitals which are still running today. 100 percent female health workers have rejoined their jobs,” he maintained.
He added that aid has been cut by “international human rights champions” and the assets of people of Afghanistan and their basic source of sustenance have also been frozen.
“There no longer exists any rationale behind any such sanctions. The international community wants us to build an inclusive government - our current cabinet fulfils that requirement - we have representatives from all ethnicities. We are being punished for something, which is a possibility in the future,” he added.
“They want us to ensure more inclusivity, but I would like to ask whether can we ask President Biden to include [former president] Donald Trump in his cabinet to ensure more inclusivity?” Muttaqi said in response to a question.
He added that there is a “consensus” in Afghanistan and the entire region that whichever government is in power with the support of the people of Afghanistan is in the interest of all.
On the question of recognition of the Taliban government, Muttaqi expressed the confidence that the international community would soon recognise their government.
“We have, basically, been recognised as the de facto [rulers] and we hope that the official announcement would also come soon,” he said, adding that the Taliban’s government appointed diplomatic staff had started working in various embassies in many countries.
He also stated that the current government has been pursuing a balanced policy, adding that the previous Ghani government had completely submitted to the foreign powers.
“There is no political prisoners in Afghanistan. Whereas, in the previous government there were 35,000 prisoners in jails. Where were the human rights champions then who are now lecturing us on basic humanitarian rights,” he asked, adding: “there has been no internationally-recognised definitions of the basic humanitarian laws as well as terrorism.”
To another query, he appreciated Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees who have resided in the country for more than 40 years.
Regarding women’s rights and education, he said that more than 75 percent of girls have returned to school and while the focus of the international community on women education, there is very little focus on the teachers who need to paid, hence this appears to be quite contradictory on part of the international community.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021