An emergency meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Monday, convened to discuss the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of Kabul, emphasised that Pakistan remains "committed to an inclusive political settlement" in the neighbouring war-torn country.
The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by senior cabinet members and chiefs of the armed forces, also decided that "the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan must be adhered to," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.
The meeting's attendants were informed of the latest developments in Afghanistan and their possible impact on Pakistan as well as the South Asian region, according to the statement.
The participants of the meeting reaffirmed that Pakistan would "continue to work with the international community and all Afghan stakeholders to facilitate an inclusive political settlement", terming it as "the way forward" for the representation of all Afghan ethnic groups.
The National Security Committee observed that "major violence had been averted" so far during the Taliban's takeover of Kabul and urged all parties in Afghanistan to "respect the rule of law, protect fundamental human rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghan soil is not used by any terrorist organisation/group against any country".
The meeting stressed that the international community "must recognise the sacrifices made by Pakistan" over the last four decades, adding that Pakistan was also a victim of the conflict in Afghanistan and wanted peace and stability in the region.
Biden administration's endorsement 'logical conclusion'
The meeting also reiterated that there was never a military solution to the Afghanistan conflict. "The ideal time to end the conflict through negotiations might have been when the US/Nato troops were at maximum military strength in Afghanistan. Continuation of foreign military presence for a longer duration now would not have yielded a different outcome," the meeting noted, according to the PMO statement.
Therefore, US President Joe Biden's administration's endorsement of the decision made during the Donald Trump presidency — to withdraw all United States troops from Afghanistan — was "indeed a logical conclusion to this conflict", the meeting said.
"It is now time for the international community to work together to ensure an inclusive political settlement for long-term peace, security and development of Afghanistan [and] the region," it added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran lauded the ongoing efforts of the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, and ordered the repatriation of Pakistani citizens, diplomats, journalists and staff of international organisations operating in Afghanistan.
Pakistan closely following Afghan situation
A day earlier, 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 the 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.
Opposition asks for briefing
The country's two major opposition political parties — PML-N and PPP — asked the government on Sunday to brief parliament on the current situation in Afghanistan, come up with a policy statement and develop a national consensus to deal with the possible consequences the nation can face after the establishment of Taliban rule in the war-torn country.
The PPP convened an extraordinary meeting of its Central Executive Committee (CEC) at Bilawal House in Karachi on Monday (today) to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and formulate the party's point of view on it.
PML-N senior vice-president and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while talking to Dawn, said that in-house consultations were already going on within the party over the events unfolding in Afghanistan.
Abbasi said the government should brief the opposition and parliamentarians on its policy on the Afghan situation. He was of the view that a mere debate in the joint sitting of parliament would be of no use.
He said the focus of the debate should be the development of a national consensus. However, he said, the debate would only be meaningful if it was held after the issuance of a policy statement from the government.