ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday welcomed the Taliban’s desire for Afghanistan’s inclusion in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and termed it an encouraging sign.

“It is good if Taliban’s views about China are similar to that of Pakistan,” he told a press conference.

Mr Rashid said CPEC was an economic lifeline for the country.

“Pakistan is proud of its friendship with China and if Taliban hold similar views, then it is really good,” he said.

Taliban had on Saturday described China as their “most important partner”, saying Kabul looked to Beijing to rebuild the country and exploit its rich copper deposits as the war-ravaged country faced widespread hunger and economic collapse.

Rashid says perpetrators of suicide attacks in Gwadar, Mastung identified

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

Referring to suicide bombing on Aug 20 in Gwadar and another one targeting the FC convoy on Mastung Road in Quetta on Sunday, the minister said that suicide bombers of these two acts of terror had been identified and they had come from Afghanistan.

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

Mr Rashid claimed that India had 68 training camps in Afghanistan, which were now dysfunctional.

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

In reply to a question, the minister said Pakistan would take decisions about its side of Torkham and Chaman borders while Taliban would take decisions about their side.

He, however, made it clear that the Pakistan government would decide about those who were entering the country without documents.

He said that Taliban had assured Pakistan that the Afghan territory would not be allowed to be used against Pakistan and the latter had also given assurance to its neighbours. “However, in Pakistan, there are BLA, Daesh and other terrorist organisations, but our army has the capacity to deal with them effectively,” the minister said.

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

The minister said that India had been defeated in Afghanistan and it was the “only country in the region that has repeatedly faced humiliation”.

In reply to a question about internal politics, Mr Rashid said that opposition leaders Bilawal Bhutto, Shahbaz Sharif and Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s politics had failed and their dreams would never come true and the government would complete its tenure.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2021

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