Pakistan not to cave under world pressure, will continue provision of aid to Afghanistan, says Sheikh Rashid

Published October 7, 2021
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid addresses a press conference in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid addresses a press conference in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Thursday that Pakistan would continue aid to Afghanistan, without caving under any pressure from the rest of the world.

"They (Afghans) are our brothers, and they are our neighbours," Ahmed said, while addressing a press conference in Lahore, adding that as had been clarified by Prime Minister Imran Khan, once the world moves towards making a decision on Afghanistan, Pakistan would follow suit.

Following the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August this year, Pakistan has consistently called for recognition of the new Taliban government, assistance for averting the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and resumption of development aid for the new administration for preventing an imminent economic collapse there. This has dominated Pakistan’s foreign policy agenda for the past few weeks.

And while most of the Western countries have expressed interest in engaging with the Taliban and promised humanitarian aid, they have been reluctant to formally recognise the group as the government in office in Afghanistan and provide development assistance that has historically funded the functioning of the state institutions there.

The interior minister's statement in this regard has come as a US delegation, led by Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman, arrives in Pakistan for talks aimed at bridging a growing chasm between Washington and Islamabad on the Afghan issue.

According to a Dawn report, which cited diplomatic sources in Washington, the Biden administration is focusing on four major points in its talks with Pakistan: the recognition of the Taliban government in Kabul, international sanctions on Afghanistan, access to Afghanistan and counter-terrorism cooperation.

The sources had told Dawn that the US did not want Pakistan to recognise the Taliban regime before the rest of the international community. Instead, it wanted Pakistan to continue its efforts for softening the Taliban position on controversial issues, such as inclusive governance, human rights, girls’ education and allowing women to work, the report said.

It added that Americans believed a change of position on these issues could have a positive impact on the Taliban image and pave the way for their acceptance in the United Nations.

'Irresponsible statements'

Addressing the media on Thursday, Ahmed also cricitised PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz for giving irresponsible statements against state institutions.

A day ago, Maryam Nawaz had held a fiery press conference prior to the appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum as the new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence.

Ahmed said that by giving such blistering, irresponsible statements, the opposition was only adding to its difficulties.

He said transfers, promotions and postings in the armed forces were a routine occurrence and "targeting sensitive department was the height of irresponsibility".

Ahmed further stated, "People represent departments and you do not become a corps commander in a day. You have to spend a lifetime performing duties [in tough situations] in mountains, rivers, and deserts."

'Vaccination being made questionable as part of conspiracy'

On the issue of Covid-19 vaccination, Ahmed claimed that it was being made questionable deliberately, as part of a conspiracy.

"Breaking news of the vaccination of the dead is also being aired. In doing so, who is being served?" the minister asked, without referring to any particular incident of such nature.

He went on to say that making vaccination questionable was akin to strengthening the enemy at a time when the common man was to benefit from the decisions taken on controlling the pandemic by Prime Minister Imran Khan and the National Command and Operation Centre.

Replying to a question on the recently promulgated National Accountability Ordinance, the minister maintained the move was aimed at facilitating the people and businessmen.

To another question, he commented that he foresaw a new alignment of the PML-N and PPP emerging close to the 2023 general elections.

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