Qureshi stresses 'comprehensive political solution' in meeting with Afghan delegation

Published August 16, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomes the Afghan delegation at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Photo by author
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomes the Afghan delegation at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Photo by author
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi meets the Afghan delegation in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Shah Mahmood Qureshi Twitter
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi meets the Afghan delegation in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Shah Mahmood Qureshi Twitter
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi meets the Afghan delegation in Islamabad. — Photo by author
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi meets the Afghan delegation in Islamabad. — Photo by author
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomes an Afghan leader at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Photo by author
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomes an Afghan leader at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Photo by author

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, after meeting a delegation of Afghan leaders in Islamabad on Monday, said it was "incumbent on the Afghan leadership to use this historic opportunity to pave the way for an inclusive and comprehensive political solution in Afghanistan", according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO).

The foreign minister welcomed the delegation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and later discussed with the leaders the situation in Afghanistan — which is gripped by panic following the Taliban entering Kabul and taking control of the presidential palace and President Ashraf Ghani leaving the country.

"We hope that all Afghan leaders will make efforts [for peace] in the larger interest of the country," the foreign minister said, adding that Pakistan was determined to play a constructive and facilitative role for the restoration of peace in Afghanistan.

According to the statement, Qureshi said, "It is necessary that we work together to devise a plan of action for the betterment of Afghanistan and the region."

"Our aim is [to work for a] peaceful, united, democratic, stable and prosperous Afghanistan," he said, expressing hope that both the parties would work together to take the process of peace and rapprochement forward in the war-torn country.

He reiterated that Pakistan saw "comprehensive dialogue" as the only way for a political solution in Afghanistan.

"We do not want [Afghanistan's] neighbouring countries to face the effects of turmoil and chaos over there."

The foreign minister further stated that a keen eye would have to be kept on elements that were trying to distort the image of Pakistan, undermining its role in the negotiations in Afghanistan, which had been recognised internationally.

Qureshi added that the international community clearly wanted to see peace and a process of rapprochement initiated in Afghanistan.

He called for the international community to cooperate and provide economic assistance for making the situation better in Afghanistan.

Later, the foreign minister addressed a press conference, saying that the Afghan delegation comprised representatives from all ethnic groups residing in Afghanistan.

He said he presented Pakistan's point of view in the meeting with the delegation and got the opportunity to understand the expectations the Afghan leaders had from Pakistan.

Qureshi said his meeting with the delegation was held at a crucial time, as it had been scheduled right before a National Security Committee meeting called by Prime Minister Imran Khan today (Monday) to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

He further stated that the foreign minister of Denmark had called him and requested for assistance in evacuating staff from the country's embassy in Kabul.

"We have facilitated them and 380 people have reached Pakistan. From here, they will be sent to Denmark."

The foreign minister added that Pakistan planned to send more flights to Afghanistan to facilitate the process of evacuation.

He said Pakistan wanted the international community to remain engaged with the situation in Afghanistan so that the peace and rapprochement process there was not stalled and the chaos there was controlled.

In reply to a question, he said a National Security Committee meeting was scheduled today and the future course of action on Afghanistan would depend on what was decided in the meeting and the prime minister's instructions.

PIA halts flights to Kabul over ‘uncertain security situation’

Meanwhile, the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) says it has halted all flights to Kabul because of the uncertain security situation there.

The Associated Press quoted PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez as saying on Monday the national airline had decided to protect passengers, the crew and the planes after consulting the Afghan civil aviation authorities.

His statement came as embassies scrambled to evacuate personnel and Afghan employees through the airport.

The Afghan delegation had reached Pakistan on Sunday evening, against the backdrop of the Taliban entering Afghan capital Kabul, giving rise to fears that Afghanistan would see a return of harsh practices that the insurgents had imposed during their rule between 1996 and 2001.

The delegation was received by Pakistan's Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq, who had said on Twitter that the visiting group included Salahuddin Rabbani, Mohammad Yunus Qanooni, Ustad Mohammad Karim Khalili, Ahmad Zia Massoud, Ahmad Wali Massoud, Abdul Latif Pedram, Ustad Mohammad Mohaqiq and Khalid Noor.

"Matters of mutual interest will be discussed during the Afghan political leadership's visit," Sadiq had added.

Meanwhile, as the Taliban had further moved into Kabul, Pakistan's FO had said it was "closely following the unfolding situation" in Afghanistan, and would continue to support the efforts for a political settlement.

"We hope all Afghan sides will work together to resolve this internal political crisis," the FO had said in a statement.

It had said the Pakistan embassy in Kabul was "extending necessary assistance" to Pakistanis, Afghans and the diplomatic and international community for consular work and coordination of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights.

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