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Pakistan closes Taliban embassy

November 23, 2001


ISLAMABAD, Nov 22: The government on Thursday ordered closure of the Taliban embassy here, the militia’s last diplomatic mission in the country.

Speaking at a Press briefing, foreign office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said the decision was taken on Wednesday and conveyed to the Afghan Ambassador, Mulla Abdul Salam Zaef, on Thursday morning.

It may be mentioned that the US State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, had said in Washington on Wednesday that US no longer saw any reason for the Taliban embassy in Islamabad to stay open.

The spokesman said that Pakistan would consider reopening Afghan embassy when a broad-based government in Kabul was put in place.

He said the closure of the Afghan embassy in Islamabad had been under consideration of the government for quite some time and it had earlier ordered closing down of Afghan consulates in Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar and now had decided to close down the embassy as well.

He said the government was in close contact with the international community to save lives of the Afghan people, Taliban fighters and foreigners besieged in Kunduz.

The spokesman said chief of the International Committee on Red Cross, Jackob Kellenberger had held a meeting with President Gen Pervez Musharraf and discussed the issue of people besieged in Kunduz. The ICRC chief assured the president of full support in ensuring humanly treatment to the innocent people.

He also assured the president that the ICRC would continue its efforts for the implementation of international conventions and the besieged people would be provided best possible protection.

During the meeting, the president stressed the ICRC chief that the besieged people should not be subjected to vengeance and should be treated on humanitarian basis.

Both sides also discussed matters pertaining to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, revival of political process and the efforts for forming a broad-based government there, the spokesman said.

He said the UN Secretary-general, Kofi Annan, had written a letter to Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, holding out assurance that people besieged in Kunduz would be provided protection and the innocent citizens and the Taliban surrendering their arms would be provided security of life under Geneva conventions.

Similarly, he said, the president of Poland in his telephonic conversation with President Musharraf had agreed on formation of a broad-based government in Kabul and enhancement of bilateral relations.

Responding to a question, the spokesman said that the freedom struggle waged by the Kashmiri people in held Kashmir should not be equated with terrorism.

To a question, the spokesman said Pakistan in the absence of its diplomatic mission in Kabul was left with no option but to appeal to the international community to ensure safety of the besieged people in Kunduz and resolve this issue on humanitarian grounds.

To another question, he said that the Pakistan embassy and consulate in the United States were in constant touch with the American officials on the issue of arrest of Pakistani expatriates and expected some positive results.

He confirmed that the US had started expelling all those foreigners whose visas had expired following Sept 11 attacks and the Pakistani ambassador was holding talks with the US officials on this issue.

The spokesman said that Pakistan embassy was providing legal help to the Pakistanis in the United States who were facing action due to expiry of their visas.

Replying to a question, DG ISPR Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi, who was also present on the occasion, said that the Indian forces had resorted to unprovoked heavy firing along the entire length of Line of Control in the Neelam Valley and Aliabad sectors in Azad Kashmir, resulting in casualties of civilian people and losses to property. One person, he said, had been killed and several others injured.

He claimed that Pakistan army troops had repulsed the Indian aggressors and silenced their firing.