ISI chief’s visit to Kabul: Fawad sees ‘unconventional contacts’ imperative

Published September 6, 2021
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry speaks to the media in Lahore on Sunday. — Photo courtesy PID website
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry speaks to the media in Lahore on Sunday. — Photo courtesy PID website

LAHORE: Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry defends the Kabul visit by the director general of the country’s prime intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, saying such unconventional contacts are necessary for discussion on various issues at a time when there is power vacuum in Afghanistan.

ISI DG Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed is in Kabul and reported by the media as having meetings with the Taliban leadership as well as other Afghan leaders including former prime minister Gulbadin Hekmatyar.

“There’s no government in Afghanistan at present and there’s a power vacuum there. In such a situation, who should a leader from the political set-up of Pakistan meet there? The prime minister and foreign minister will meet their counterparts [who are not there],” the minister told the media here on Sunday.

Unconventional contacts are used in such a situation to share concerns, if any, and discuss various affairs, he argued. He said as Pakistan and Afghanistan shared deep strategic, economic, political and social relations, Islamabad could not abandon ordinary Afghans and close its eyes to the likely impacts to be caused to the country in case of instability in Kabul.

Negating the impression that the country was following an Afghan policy different from the rest of the world, Mr Chaudhry said the only difference was that Pakistan had been calling for a political solution to the Afghan crisis for years, while the US and other world powers realised the importance of the option only recently.

Responding to a query, he said forming a government in Kabul was the right of the Afghan people only and Pakistan supported the idea of an inclusive government there. He said Islamabad could only play a role in the stability of the war-torn country and that the new government there would be recognised in consultation with regional countries and world powers.

Answering a question, the minister said Indian taxpayers and Lok Sabha should question Modi government’s Afghan strategy in which it had wasted billions of dollars in Afghanistan while this amount could have been used for the welfare of the marginalised.

He wondered why the Indian government and media were presenting Afghanistan as the biggest issue though the two countries shared not a single inch of border. He said India could not be given any role in Afghanistan, for it had always used Afghan soil for sponsoring terrorist activities against Pakistan.

Commenting on the domestic political scene, the federal minister criticised the opposition for, what he said, never talking seriously on issues like electoral reforms, electronic voting machines, media authority law and other legislative work.

He regretted that the opposition didn’t nominate its representatives for the committee to be formed under the National Assembly on EVMs for the last three months. Likewise, the opposition was yet to submit its suggestions regarding the names given by the prime minister for appointment of the Election Commission members (from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces).

Referring to the PML-N, he sarcastically said there would be a weekly toss in the party to decide who would lead the N-League in the next seven days. “If Shehbaz Sharif is leading this week, Maryam will be next week, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi even next and Nawaz Sharif himself in the fourth week,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2021

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