US bill handiwork of anti-Pakistan lobbies: FM

Published October 2, 2021
FOREIGN Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks during the joint press conference with his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod in Islamabad on Friday.—AFP
FOREIGN Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks during the joint press conference with his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod in Islamabad on Friday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday played down the proposed bill in the United States Senate seeking sanctions against Afghan Taliban and their foreign backers as handiwork of anti-Pakistan lobbies and called for not paying too much attention to it.

Speaking at a press conference along with his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod after their talks at Foreign Office, Mr Qureshi said: “Let us not be excessively obsessed with the bill. It’s an attempt and let’s not forget that there are lobbies in the United States and there are neighbours in our region who would like to play up this bill.”

Says Islamabad wants to engage with US leaders to explain its position

He believed the move was an attempt to “pass the buck” on to Pakistan for US failure in Afghanistan.

A bill proposed by 22 Republican Senators seeks a report from the Secretary of State about Pakistan’s alleged involvement with Taliban from 2001 to 2020. The bill, moreover, calls for imposing sanctions on Taliban and the foreign governments that helped the group topple Ghani administration.

Mr Qureshi cautioned against “scapegoating” Pakistan while “overlooking ground realities.”

Reminding the US legislators about the “positive role” played by Pakistan in the war against terrorism, he underscored the need for continued security cooperation.

“They have to understand that a partnership with Pakistan is required [by the US] in the future as well to achieve stability in Afghanistan and the region,” he maintained.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan would like to engage with US leaders to explain its position.

“Pakistan believes in engagement and communication. Obviously we will be defending our interests, we will protect Pakistan’s interest. We will defend our position because we have a lot to share with the US Congress,” he said.

About bilateral ties with Denmark, Mr Qureshi said that he had pointed out three areas – renewable energy, climate change, and parliamentary exchanges – in which Pakistan would like to increase cooperation.

“We have welcomed some of the initiatives announced, for example the green partnership agreement signed between Denmark and Pakistan. This will give us opportunities for greater cooperation in renewable energy,” he said.

Mr Kofod said that Denmark was not going to recognise Taliban government because of “a very serious situation” about which Copenhagen was deeply worried.

“I mentioned very clearly that if Afghanistan develops into a breeding ground, a safe haven for international terrorist groups, it is something that will affect all of us and we should avoid that,” he said.

Protecting the fundamental rights for people of Afghanistan was a top priority, he added.

He said that Denmark had allocated $80 million for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in 2021 and that would continue.

Talking about the commitments made by Taliban, he said that Denmark would judge on the basis of their actions and not words.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2021

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