'It's encouraging': Sheikh Rashid on Taliban's desire to include Afghanistan in CPEC

Published September 6, 2021
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed addresses a press briefing in Islamabad on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed addresses a press briefing in Islamabad on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Monday hailed the Taliban’s desire to have Afghanistan incorporated in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as “encouraging”, saying “it is good” if the Taliban’s views about China were similar to that of Pakistan.

Addressing a press briefing in Islamabad, Rashid said CPEC was an economic lifeline for Pakistan, adding that “Pakistan is proud of its friendship with China and if the Taliban hold similar views, then it is really good.”

The minister made these remarks in response to a query from a journalist, who quoted the Taliban spokesperson as expressing desire and reportedly pressing for Afghanistan's inclusion in the CPEC.

The Taliban had on Saturday also described China as its "most important partner", saying Afghanistan looks to Beijing to rebuild the country and exploit its rich copper deposits as the war-ravaged country faces widespread hunger and fears of an economic collapse.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had said the group supports China's One Belt, One Road initiative that seeks to link China with Africa, Asia and Europe through an enormous network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks.

Suicide bombers identified

The minister also revealed during the presser that suicide bombers in a Gwadar blast of Aug 20 and another explosion targeting FC convoy on Mastung Road in Quetta on Sunday had been identified, and said they had come from Afghanistan.

Two boys were killed and four others, including a Chinese national, injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up targeting a vehicle carrying Chinese nationals in Gwadar on Aug 20, while four people had lost their lives and 20 were injured on Sunday in a suicide attack near a checkpost on Mastung Road in Quetta.

Indian camps in Afghanistan

Rashid also said that India had 68 training camps in Afghanistan, which are now dysfunctional.

The minister reiterated that Pakistan supported peace, development and prosperity in Afghanistan, saying “the peace in the two countries is interlinked.”

Responding to another question, Rashid said Pakistan would take decisions about its side of Torkham, Chaman, while the Taliban had the authority to make decisions on their side. He, however, added that the [Pakistan] government would decide about those who were coming into the country without documents.

He said Afghans had assured their territory would not be used against Pakistan, while the latter also made the same assurance to its neighbours.

“However, in this country, there is BLA, Daesh and other terrorist organisations, but our Army has the capacity to deal with them effectively,” the minister added.

When asked about the visit of DG ISI to Kabul, Rashid responded that Gen Faiz dominated Indian media for two days. “It seemed as if he visited Delhi instead of Kabul,” he said.

He insisted that Afghanistan was going to be the cynosure of world politics in days to come.

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