India can’t use Afghan soil any more: cabinet

Published September 1, 2021
(Clockwise): Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (centre, with shawl) speaks to the media at the airport in Kabul on Tuesday. The Taliban joyously fired guns into the air and offered words of reconciliation as they celebrated defeating the United States. Taliban fighters atop a Humvee vehicle take part in a rally. A fighter sits in the cockpit of an Afghan Air Force (AAF) aircraft at the airport. A-29 attack aircraft of AAF are pictured as armoured vests are lying on the ground inside a hangar.—AFP
(Clockwise): Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (centre, with shawl) speaks to the media at the airport in Kabul on Tuesday. The Taliban joyously fired guns into the air and offered words of reconciliation as they celebrated defeating the United States. Taliban fighters atop a Humvee vehicle take part in a rally. A fighter sits in the cockpit of an Afghan Air Force (AAF) aircraft at the airport. A-29 attack aircraft of AAF are pictured as armoured vests are lying on the ground inside a hangar.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Reiterating the government’s resolve to help establish an inclusive government in Afghanistan, the federal cabinet on Tuesday expressed the hope that after the Taliban takeover of the neighbouring country, India would not be able to use Afghan soil against Pakistan.

“The new Afghan authorities have come up with a clear stance and we hope they won’t allow Afghanistan’s soil to be used against any country and there would be a reduction in Indian mischief and funding to use Afghan soil against Pakistan,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said at a post-cabinet meeting press conference on Tuesday.

He said the air corridor opened to provide aid to Afghanistan would remain operational.

The minister expressed the hope that Afghanistan’s “40-year sad tale” would come to an end and Afghans would be able to take a “sigh of relief” and Pakistan would be able to strengthen its relations with a stable neighbour.

“We have a message for the Afghan people that we pray for your peace and stability and will do whatever is possible to provide relief.”

PM given briefing on bifurcation of CAA

Giving updates on the ongoing evacuation process, he said Pakistan’s role was being praised the world over, adding that “we will continue to help in the evacuation process.”

He said all Pakistanis who wished to be repatriated had been evacuated from Afghanistan.

Regarding recognition of a new government in Afghanistan, he said Pakistan’s policy was clear that it would not take an isolated decision. “International and regional attitudes would be considered before a decision to recognise new Afghan regime.”

Asked about recent attacks on the Pakistan Army from across Afghan border, he said: “It’s not as if there will be a change the very next day the government is changed.”

The cabinet expressed satisfaction over what the information minister said 1.4 million “record number of vaccination” in a day carried out in the country on Monday.

Regarding the ongoing issue of Pakistan remaining on the UK’s travel red list, Mr Chaudhry said Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken up the matter with his British counterpart Boris Johnson.

“The UK government believes that there needs to be a discussion on Pakistan’s internal [Covid-19] testing mechanism,” he said, adding that a detailed session would be held this week between Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan and Britain’s chief medical scientist.

The information minister said the government was making efforts for Pakistan to be taken off the list since it was “a matter of importance to many Pakistanis”.

EVM briefing

The cabinet was given a briefing on electronic voting machine (EVM) and the prime minister was of the view that the use of EVM was the only solution for holding free, fair and transparent elections.

Speaking on other issues, Mr Chaudhry said the premier had tasked Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin and Energy Minister Hammad Azhar with bringing a reduction in the price of liquefied petroleum gas cylinders.

“The prime minister has emphasised that there is a need to bring the cylinder prices down and these two ministers will now meet on this issue and take the issue forward.”

The cabinet was also apprised that the government was initiating Rs4.7 trillion development projects under public-private partnership (PPP) and Rs618 billion projects had been launched.

PM’s meetings

Later Prime Minister Khan chaired a series of meetings on different issues and said at the level of higher education, teaching youth modern sciences was key to progress and development.

Presiding a review meeting on the promotion of higher education, the prime minister said the federal government would provide all possible assistance to the provinces to promote higher education.

The meeting was apprised of the progress on the establishment of Sialkot Engineering University. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council has approved the project worth Rs16.69bn.

The university will be set up jointly by the federal and Punjab governments and half of the money and land will be provided by the provincial government.

The meeting was informed that Seerat-un-Nabi (PBUH) was being included in the syllabus of grade 8, 9 and 10 and the new syllabus for these classes would be launched soon.

The prime minister also held a meeting with Minister for Civil Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan and received a briefing on the bifurcating of operation and regulatory roles of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Mr Sarwar told the prime minister that the construction of 500 flats in Labour Complex, Taxila, had been completed.

Seventy flats in this complex had been allocated to the heirs of the martyrs of Ordnance Factory, Wah, he said, adding that balloting of the remaining flats would be held soon.

Later, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain paid a farewell visit to Mr Khan and presented him a performance report on institutional reforms.

The two-volume report included the introduced reforms and a future strategy in that regard.

The prime minister lauded the services of Dr Hussain and expressed best wishes for his future.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2021

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