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ISLAMABAD: National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr Moeed Yusuf Thursday said that there might be a disconnect between Pakistan and the United States on how to move forward with the Taliban’s interim government, but there is no disconnect on providing humanitarian assistance.

He was speaking at a session on “Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan: Need for Regional & Global Responses” held on the occasion of last day of 24th Sustainable Development Conference titled: Beyond the Pandemic: Leaving no one Behind, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, here on Thursday. Yusuf said that the disconnect, between Pakistan and the US that was during the war against terrorism, has ended when the war ended in Afghanistan.

“Now the disconnect may be on how we can move forward on with the interim government. But there is no disconnect with the United States on the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, but it is the operational part which is not actually taking place. When you hear everybody thought, they are saying the right thing, but on the ground it is not happening fast in order to, actually, people feed their kids,” he added.

In Washington, he said that the policymakers believed that a military victory in Afghanistan was possible and if Pakistan would have done more. “That’s where the disconnect was, which continued to generate frustration in Washington and other capitals. But our point was that there was no different outcome, as there was a structural problem,” he said.

First, he added that Afghans will not tolerate an outsider as a benefactor and they would always see them as invaders or occupiers. The other issue is, when you ask Pakistan to do more, a country that was having bomb blast every day, losing hundreds of civilians and soldiers, he added.

“Is Pakistani life worth nothing? We have 80,000 casualties. How many more do you want [to be killed] before you will trust Pakistan to be sincere? Why would Pakistani lives be wasting for something which would not change the outcome of war at all?” he asked.

Responding to criticism blaming Pakistan for a “double game”, he said that there was a “double game” in these 20 years, but that “double game” was that Pakistan overnight took a U-turn in support of the US and got a backlash and lost thousands of soldiers and civilians, but what we got in return was that Pakistani militants were sitting in Afghanistan and attacking Pakistan under the protection of Afghan intelligence forces and the support of the Indians.

“That’s really a double game that we talk about. But this is not relevant at this moment and the real question is that about 30 to 35 million Afghan people are facing the winter and the UN agencies are warning that this is the worst humanitarian and economic disaster they have ever seen,” he said, adding that’s why we have been pushing the entire world to try and see the urgency of the situation in Afghanistan and at least, let the humanitarian assistance be exempted from all politics.

To a question about the Western media lobbying with US President Joe Biden that the international monetary institutions should take strict position against Pakistan for what had happened in Afghanistan, the NSA said that at this stage, the question of Afghanistan is not linked to Pakistan’s package with the IMF.

The real issue is that money is not getting into Afghanistan because banking channels are not functioning, he said, adding that there is a very simple solution to allowing banking channels to function, which is not being implemented.

He said that there are exemptions on humanitarian assistance already, yet no bank is being allowed or willing to conduct transactions. “If there is no transaction, then how do you expect the humanitarian organisations to function,” he further asked.

He said that Pakistan is not saying to give us the money, adding that if the international organisations such as the UN, the World Food Program (WFP), and others cannot run their bank accounts and then how would they continue their operations.

He called for an end to this “politics”, adding the winter is already here and if things go wrong in Afghanistan, Pakistan is the first to be affected by situation the most. To a question, he said that Pakistan’s shift from geopolitics to geo-economics is appreciated globally. “It would take time, but it is a direction where the country has to go on,” he said. For that, he added the first thing is to put a reality on the ground.

In response to another query, he said that Pakistan is not in a position to take more refugees because of its economic situation. He said that those talking about managing the refugees, are making a very unethical and an immoral argument.

He said that the world should undertake measures to prevent even a single Afghan from becoming a refugee again. He said that the real issue is to allow humanitarian assistance in way that can go beyond the humanitarian assistance as no country can function just on humanitarian assistance.

Responding to another query as to whether the new Afghan government has given some sort of assurance that Afghan soil would not be used against Pakistan by militant outfits such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he said that nobody would give any assurance or guarantee, adding that there is too much media hype about this. He said that Pakistan’s position as State has always been as that if there is a way to ensure safety of every citizen, “we will try that.”

He said that Pakistan’s position is clear that no other country’s soil should be used against its interest, adding, Afghanistan was used in the past and now there is a different situation. “What is fair to say is that the real supply line and the support base for the TTP was India and the Afghan intelligence. That for now is not there,” he added.

When asked whether Pakistan is now in a position to negotiate with the TTP in a more powerful position, he said: “Definitely, we are in a position of strength, but what happens and whether we will do it and how, I think it’s premature and we will see when we get there,” he added.

About the issue of extremism, he said that we need to work as a society to address the issue of intolerance. He said that the government determined that the State has to establish its writ in a way that the monopoly over violence is not challenged. “We are not there yet; it is challenged sometimes. We have to get there,” he added. With regard to the TLP, he said in a situation, the state has to take a decision in the largest interest of the country to resolve the problem permanently.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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