ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday said it would ask the incoming government in Afghanistan to act against the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“Pakistan has been taking up the issue of use of Afghan soil by the TTP for terrorist activities inside Pakistan with the previous Afghan government and would continue raising the issue with the coming government in Kabul as well to ensure that the TTP is not provided any space in Afghanistan to operate against Pakistan,” outgoing Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said at the weekly press briefing.
Mr Chaudhri, who has been named as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Australia, has been replaced by Asim Iftikhar Ahmad.
In reply to a question about prisoners being released by Afghan Taliban, including TTP leaders like Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, he said: “We have seen some media reports in this regard. We have [opposed] and continue to oppose support for any individual or any proscribed groups that remained involved in terrorist activities inside Pakistan.”
FO says Pakistan will continue to support peace process and development in Afghanistan
“We hope that once the new government is formed in Afghanistan, it will take strict measures to ensure that their soil is not used against other countries,” he said.
He said the border crossing points between Pakistan and Afghanistan were currently open, both for transit trade and travel.
He diplomatically responded to a straight question if Pakistan would recognise the Taliban by saying that Pakistan had always maintained that a political solution was indispensable for durable peace in Afghanistan. “We continue urging all Afghan sides to work out an inclusive political settlement,” he said.
He said Pakistan also believed in the necessity of consensus and engagement of the international community. “There is no change in our position. We have also positively noted that major violence has been averted thus far,” he remarked.
He also said the recent statements made by the Taliban’s spokesperson with regards to not letting Afghanistan become a terrorist haven against other countries was a positive indication.
When his attention was drawn to appeals by China and Russia for a lenient approach to Taliban, he said: “We continue to believe that an inclusive political settlement is the best way forward in Afghanistan. To this end, we remain engaged with all sides in Afghanistan and with the international community”.
He noted that as for the formation of new government, Pakistan believed that international consensus was very important in this regard. “We see an opportunity in the form of existing international convergence on the need for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan”, he added.
To a question about India’s role as a spoiler, the spokesman said Pakistan had always highlighted India’s role of a spoiler in Afghanistan. India wanted a security vacuum in Afghanistan so that the same could be used for sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan, Mr Chaudhri said.
“We shared a detailed dossier with the world community last year, containing irrefutable evidence of India’s involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan and the use of Afghan soil for this purpose”, he recalled.
He was of the opinion that any country going against the international community’s convergence on peace and stability in Afghanistan at this moment and working for destabilising Afghanistan would stand isolated.
Answering a question about smooth fall of Kabul, he said the international community needed to look into the real reasons for meltdown of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and the failure of governance in Afghanistan.
He also referred to the statement by the spokesperson of the US Department of Defence emphasising the superiority of ANDSF in air power, weaponry, capability and numbers. “We believe that the utter failure despite the apparent advantages needs to be looked into rather than pointing fingers at others,” he remarked.
He said Pakistan had always played the role of a facilitator in the Afghan peace process and would continue doing so. “The decision of the future of Afghanistan, however, ultimately rests with the Afghans”, he stressed.
He said Pakistan has been consistently engaged with all Afghan sides. “Due to our engagement with all sides, we have been able to play the role of a ‘facilitator’ in the initiation of intra-Afghan negotiations. Even in the current situation, our ambassador in Afghanistan has been reaching out to the political leaders in Afghanistan, including the Taliban. You would also be aware of the visit by an Afghan delegation to Pakistan, comprising leaders from various ethnicity groups and political parties”, he said.
About Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s interactions with global leaders, he said “conversations with the world leaders are centered on the evolving situation in Afghanistan, the way forward, and the efforts for evacuation and temporary relocation. We see a common desire for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan”.
The spokesman said Pakistan remained committed to both peace and development in Afghanistan. “We have consistently supported the Afghan peace process and have extended necessary development assistance. We have committed over $1 billion for projects in health, education and infrastructure in Afghanistan. … Moving forward, we will continue to support the peace process and development in Afghanistan, as we have done in the past”, Mr Chaudhri remarked.
He said the foreign minister would be visiting neighbouring countries of Afghanistan for consultations soon.
He said Pakistan’s Ambassador in Kabul had met with the Taliban leaders, former president Hamid Karzai, Dr Abdullah and others.
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2021