ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday warned against blaming Pakistan for the absence of peace in Afghanistan.

Addressing a Pak-Afghanistan Track-II event, the foreign minister said “holding Pakistan responsible for all the ills and the lack of the process” would be unconstructive.

Mr Qureshi’s remarks come ahead of a visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Washington in the third week of June and also in the backdrop of a diplomatic spat between Islamabad and Kabul over crass remarks by Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib against Pakistan.

“If the objective of going to Washington is to start a new blame game … I think it will not help,” he maintained, adding that achieving peace was “a shared responsibility”.

Remarks come ahead of Ghani’s visit to US

Violence in Afghanistan has intensified since May 1 when US troops started pulling out. It is being worried that US may exit Afghanistan without a political settlement of the dispute and it could lead to more fighting and greater bloodshed there.

“If things go wrong Pakistan will not take responsibility, we will not take responsibility,” he said, adding that Pakistan was engaging with the international community for building the peace process in Afghanistan with “honesty and sincerity”.

Mr Qureshi said that Pakistan had already been accused enough.

He said that Pakistan wanted to partner with Afghanistan, the region, US, and the rest of the international community for peace in Afghanistan and combating terrorism.

The foreign minister, however, emphasised that Afghanistan needed leadership that could “negotiate a successful outcome and transit this country into peace”.

In an apparent reference to the current Afghan government, which has opposed proposals, including one from Pakistan, for setting up of a transition government, he said that leadership was not about “hanging onto power”.

He noted that there was an opportunity for peace, but at the same time stressed that “window is not there forever, if you don’t take advantage of this it will go.”

Mr Qureshi said he was “disappointed” by the recent statement of the Afghan national security adviser.

He said initiating blame game was very easy and Pakistan too can respond, but that would be counterproductive.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2021

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