‘Situation is dangerous in Afghanistan’: Zardari warns Pakistan could face blowback

Published June 29, 2021
PPP co-chairperson speaks to Dawn.com in parliament before the budget session on Tuesday. — DawnNews TV
PPP co-chairperson speaks to Dawn.com in parliament before the budget session on Tuesday. — DawnNews TV

PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari termed the situation in Afghanistan "dangerous" on Tuesday, saying that Pakistan could face its "blowback".

Speaking to Dawn.com prior to the budget session in parliament, he stressed the need for Pakistan to "keep an eye" on the situation in Afghanistan and mull and deliberate on the matter.

He expressed hope that relevant officials and authorities would be monitoring the situation in the neighbouring country and take decisions accordingly.

In recent days, concerns have been raised over a security vacuum in Afghanistan amid the US pullout as the already dim prospects of successful reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban are growing dimmer with every passing day.

Pakistani authorities fear a further intensification of the civil war in Afghanistan following the completion of the pullout in the absence of a political settlement. This, they apprehend, can have a spillover effect pushing refugees into Pakistan.

In a recent opinion piece for The Washington Post, Prime Minister Imran Khan pointed out that if there was a further civil war in Afghanistan instead of a political settlement, the number of refugees in Pakistan would increase thereby "further impoverishing the frontier areas on our border".

These fears are further fuelled by rising violence in the war-torn country in the wake of the US drawdown.

Since early May, the Taliban have launched major offensives targeting government forces across the rugged countryside. On June 22, the Taliban captured Afghanistan's main border crossing with Tajikistan,with security forces abandoning their posts and some fleeing across the frontier. The seizure of Shir Khan Bandar, in the far north of Afghanistan, about 50 kilometres from Kunduz city, was the most significant gain for the Taliban since the US began the final stage of its troop withdrawal in May.

Israel visit

Zardari was also asked about reports of former special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari travelling to Israel covertly, to which he emphasised that the government should take parliament into confidence on the matter.

An Israeli publication had alleged on Monday that Bukhari had paid a secret visit to Tel Aviv as a messenger of Pakistani leaders — a claim that was instantly denied by the government and personally by Bukhari.

Such reports first surfaced in December according to which an unnamed adviser of the prime minister, possessing a British passport, had toured Israel to convey an official message proposing the normalisation of ties between Pakistan and Israel in return for an improvement in ties with Gulf states and support for Islamabad’s position on several other issues.

However, Bukhari rubbished the claims, tweeting: "Funny bit is Pakistani paper says I went to Israel based on 'Israeli news source' and Israeli paper says I went to Israel based on a 'Pakistani source' — wonder who this imaginative Pakistani source is. Apparently, I’m the only one who was kept out of the loop."

To another question about Zadari earlier predicting that the incumbent government would be ousted, the PPP chairperson remarked: "There is no government. The government would have been ousted had it existed in the first place."

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