ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has conveyed to Pakistani authorities that the Taliban’s interim Afghan government desires the government of Pakistan and the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to resolve their issues through dialogue.

The visiting Afghan interim minister at the concluding of his four-day trip to Pakistan confirmed this at a ‘public talk’ at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) here Monday, in which, he stated that they encourage both the government of Pakistan and the TTP to resolve issues through dialogue.

“We request both, Pakistan and the TTP to sit down and resolve the issue through talks…We have talked with the Pakistani authorities [on TTP] and we would continue to do so. We don’t want to see any bloodshed and insecurity in Pakistan. This is our policy,” said the Taliban’s top diplomat who visited Pakistan from May 5-8 along with a high-level delegation, including the acting Afghan minister for commerce and industry Haji Nooruddin Azizi and senior officials from the Afghanistan ministries of foreign affairs, transport and trade.

The Afghanistan acting foreign minister insisted the TTP was not an issue of a year or so, adding that it has a long history of its formation prior to the Taliban taking over Afghanistan. However, he expressed optimism that the situation will improve in the near future.

The statement by the top Taliban diplomat comes following the recent increase in terrorism in the country while a last month’s meeting of the National Security Committee decided to launch an all-out military operation against the terrorists.

In Islamabad, Muttaqi also participated in the 5th China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue on 6th May 2023 in which Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari led their respective delegations.

In the Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, he stated that the three sides – China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – expressed the resolve that they would not allow anybody to use their respective countries against the others.

He said that the Afghanistan interim government will not allow anyone, including the TTP to use Afghanistan’s soil against any other country, including Pakistan.

Without mentioning the US drone operation against the Taliban in the past, allegedly from Pakistan, Muttaqi added the three sides also agreed not to allow their respective land and air space to be used against the other country.

Acknowledging Pakistan’s loss while fighting against terrorism, he said that Pakistani authorities have been stating that in the last 20 years, the country lost 80,000 lives to terrorism.

He stated that the challenges faced by neighbouring countries Pakistan and Afghanistan are not different from one another, adding that both countries have been through various situations and will now work together.

He further stated that the two countries will have to show flexibility and move towards a brighter future.

To a question, Muttaqi denied presence of any terrorist organisation in Afghanistan, saying that it is a 20-year “propaganda” against his country, adding: “Soon after the US withdrawal, there is no terrorist outfit anywhere in Afghanistan.” He also claimed that Afghanistan “successfully” peace after 44 years.

About the trade and economy, he said that there exist tremendous opportunities to increase the trade volume from the current $2.4 billion to $3 billion next year through joint investment for the mutual benefit of the two countries and the people.

He said that the two sides need to make joint investment in projects such as energy, connectivity, transit, infrastructure and transportation, besides enhancing capacity building of the customs at the borders.

He also pointed out that the transit trade is facing challenges and by addressing these problems and making joint investments in projects of mutual importance, the two countries would be able to leverage the untapped potential in further increasing the bilateral trade.

Furthermore, he added that the regional initiatives such as TAPI, CASA-1000 and other connectivity projects are of the key interest of the interim Afghan government. He said that his country desires enhanced cooperative relations with its neighbours and regional countries based on equality and mutual respect.

He said that Afghanistan is maintaining excellent ties with nations including Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and the Middle Eastern states.

Muttaqi also claimed that the Taliban’s government has overcome many challenges in the last 20 months in power, adding that progress would be made on the remaining problems.

To a question about women’s participation in the workforce and ban on the girls’ education, he maintained that around 1,000 women health workers are working and providing services to Afghan people.

He further stated that in Afghanistan, there are 10 million students who also include girls up to six grade while girls are also getting seminary education.

Responding to a question, he said that after the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, not a single dollar has been given as foreign aid to the interim government, adding that for the first time, the incumbent Afghanistan government gave its budget from its domestic resources.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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