Pakistan has 'no favourites' in Afghanistan: FO clarifies FM Qureshi's remarks on IS, Taliban

Published August 2, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's (pictured) recent comments regarding the need to keep IS insurgency in check in Afghanistan were "misconstrued", accordintg to FO. — AP/File
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's (pictured) recent comments regarding the need to keep IS insurgency in check in Afghanistan were "misconstrued", accordintg to FO. — AP/File

The Foreign Office (FO) on Monday clarified that Pakistan favoured no particular side in Afghanistan, and stressed that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's recent comments on the Islamic State (IS) and Afghan Taliban were being "misconstrued".

The foreign minister, during a press conference in Multan on Saturday, was questioned on reports of IS militants moving into Afghanistan, to which he said: "If they're moving in from Iraq or Syria then whose responsibility is it to check them? The Afghan government's."

"Who has to keep a watch on them and monitor them? The Afghan rulers and government have to. I hope they won't neglect their responsibility."

He further said neither the Afghan government nor the Taliban, Afghanistan's neighbours or the international community wanted an IS resurgence. "There is a consensus of opinion on this. Now they have a responsibility and they should fulfil it," he added.

Qureshi's comments, on social media and in Afghan press, were reported as if he expected the Taliban, and not the Afghan government, to handle the situation.

In a statement issued today, the FO contextualised the foreign minister's remarks and said it was "regrettable" how a certain contingent of the media had "misquoted and twisted" his statement about the need for peace and stability in Afghanistan through an Afghan-owned peace process.

"The foreign minister clearly spoke about consensus among the international community, the regional players and the Afghans themselves against the menace of terrorism. His remarks cannot be in any way be misconstrued as advocacy for a particular side in the Afghan conflict," FO Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said.

"We have repeatedly stated that Pakistan has no favourites in Afghanistan. We see all sides in the conflict as Afghans who need to decide about their future themselves. We will continue to play a constructive facilitation role in the Afghan peace process," the statement reads.

The FO stressed that all energies should be focused on finding an "inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive" political settlement to the Afghan conflict.

Pakistan has repeatedly rejected allegations of taking sides in the Afghan conflict. FM Qureshi, during the inaugural session of the Pak-Afghan Bilateral Dialogue in Islamabad in June, had said that Pakistan had taken a "very clear decision" to not interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

"We have no favourites, There is a general buzz that we are advocates of the Taliban. I am not and I don't represent them, I represent Pakistan. The Talibans are Afghans," the foreign minister had emphasised.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had also told Afghan media representatives last week that Pakistan was "neither responsible for the Talibans nor are their spokespersons".

IS resurgence

Russia had warned last week that IS fighters were moving into Afghanistan amid the rapidly deteriorating security situation. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the militants were coming from Syria, Libya and several other countries.

“What’s more, in some parts, we can also see that these movements are quite seriously organised,” Shoigu was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.

The group had recently claimed responsibility for the rocket attack targeting the presidential palace in Kabul during Eidul Azha prayers.

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