• Erdogan calls Imran
• Pakistan facilitates evacuation of diplomatic staff, media persons
• FM says Islamabad has no favourites in Kabul
ISLAMABAD/MULTAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan has convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee on Monday (today) to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
Informed sources told Dawn that the meeting, to be chaired by the prime minister and attended by civil and military leadership and high ranking officials, would ponder over the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan and possible challenges for Pakistan.
A briefing on national security matters and situation at Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan will also be given during the meeting.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday to review the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan.
The prime minister told Mr Erdogan that Pakistan was extending facilitation in the evacuation of diplomatic personnel and staff of international organisations and others in Kabul, as requested.
At the NSC meeting the evolving situation would be deliberated upon, the prime minister said.
The two leaders would consult again after the meeting with a view to coordinating their efforts.
Prime Minister Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to continue efforts in support of an inclusive political solution in Afghanistan.
The Foreign Office said Pakistan was closely following the situation in Afghanistan and would continue to support efforts for political settlement.
“We hope all Afghan sides will work together to resolve this internal crisis”, Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in a series of tweets. He said Pakistan embassy in Kabul was extending required assistance to Pakistanis, Afghan nationals and diplomatic and international community for consular work and coordination of PIA flights.
He said a special inter-ministerial cell had been established in the Ministry of Interior to facilitate visa and arrival matters for diplomatic personnel and officials of United Nations agencies, international organisations, media and others.
In a related development, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a call from British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab on Sunday.
“Shared my deep concern about the future of Afghanistan with FM Qureshi. Agreed it is critical that the international community is united in telling the Taliban that the violence must end and human rights must be respected,” Mr Raab tweeted following the call.
According to the Foreign Office, during the call Foreign Minister Qureshi reviewed the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan with Secretary Raab.
Reiterating Pakistan’s steadfast support for a peaceful settlement, Mr Qureshi said the latest situation in Afghanistan required international community’s consistent engagement with Afghan leaders to ensure a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
Talking to reporters in Multan, Mr Qureshi said the world and Pakistan were on the same page that the Afghan issue should be resolved through dialogue and the transitional setup should be inclusive and broad-based representing all ethnic groups.
He said Pakistan would recognise the Taliban government in line with international consensus and ground realities.
The minister he would contact the leadership of all neighboring countries of Afghanistan after Ashura so that all should be on the same page.
Mr Qureshi said Pakistan had no favourites in Afghanistan. “The future of Afghanistan will be decided by its people. Whatever they decide we will endorse.”
Answering a question, he said the entire world had realised the seriousness of the Afghan issue and India should also make efforts to resolve the issue instead of making it complicated.
“If India plays a positive role instead of playing the role of a spoiler, it would be a good gesture for Afghanistan as it is a time to express solidarity rather than creating obstacles,” he said.
About the possible entry of more Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the foreign minister said that so far no additional refugees had come to Pakistan.
“To regulate the border with Afghanistan, we have fenced our border with Afghanistan besides installing surveillance system and deploying more force along the border so that our side remains peaceful,” he said.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan had set up a special cell its embassy in Kabul to facilitate visas for Afghan journalists and families.
Taking to Twitter, the minister said Pakistan had received hundreds of visa applications from international media personnel to facilitate their evacuation from Kabul.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmed Khan also announced via Twitter that Pakistan would be facilitating visas for Afghan journalists and families.
Commenting on the latest developments in Afghanistan, Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qayyum said what had happened in Afghanistan was written on the wall. Talking to Dawn, he said a cause for war gave soldiers the will to fight but it was absent in the case of US soldiers who committed suicide and underwent psychological problems while fighting the people of Afghanistan who had a history of rejecting foreign dominance.
He said for 20 long years, the US invested about two trillion dollars and raised and trained a 300,000 strong army which fell like a house of cards, proving that it was a miscalculation on part of the US, which kept on painting a deceptive picture to befool its people.
He said if there was any country in the world which was violating international law, was not respecting United Nations charter and had a rogue army was the United States.
Answering a question, he said Pakistan was following a balanced policy on Afghanistan, but suggested that “we should be on our toes to ensure that we have good relations with the coming government in Afghanistan”.
Answering a question, he said Pakistan should be the first country in the world to recognise the new government in Afghanistan. He said it should be done in consultation with countries like Iran and China.
He welcomed the announcement by Taliban that they would not take revenge and said the Taliban appeared to be entirely different now.
He also welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to summon NSC over Afghanistan but said the opposition leader should also have been invited to attend it. “National security matters are too sensitive to be left only for the government,” he remarked.
Senior analyst Imtiaz Gul said the US-led post 9/11 war on terrorism was built on lies, concoction and arrogance, tinged with a sense of self-righteousness born out of geo-politics. He said US security contractors and their Afghan partners were major beneficiaries of the war.
He said the biggest misplaced projection was that Afghanistan had resolute civilian infrastructure whereas the reality was that the government machinery at the highest level comprised people with dual nationalities or permanent residents abroad.
Syed Irfan Raza in Islamabad also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, August 16h, 2021