‘Afghanistan shouldn’t become safe haven for  terrorist organisations’ thumbnail

‘Afghanistan shouldn’t become safe haven for terrorist organisations’

Pakistan expects that the new leadership in Afghanistan will evolve and assume responsibility. It would keep an eye on not just the TTP but all terrorist organisations because we don’t want Afghanistan to become a safe haven for any terrorist organisation, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi remarked Monday.

“We are aware that the TTP was using the Afghan soil against Pakistan,” he remarked while responding to a question about a news report suggesting that the Taliban have formed a commission on TTP and hinted that they will be allowed to go back to Pakistan if the country announces a general pardon for them.

TTP leaders are wanted in different crimes in Pakistan and this includes terror charges too. Pakistan has a good opinion of Afghan nationals and they should think about Pakistan too. “Our concerns are genuine and our expectations are also natural. They should give up what they have been doing.”

Qureshi remarked that the Afghans and Taliban have said that they will not allow their soil to be used against anyone or any country.

Evacuation efforts

Qureshi shared that Pakistan is issuing visas to people arriving from Afghanistan. “Because of the paucity of time, people have been put on the plane and visas are being given to them on arrival.”

He shared that 409 people were granted visas on arrival in Islamabad. “Our embassy and our ambassador are constantly in touch with the local authorities and making efforts to ensure safety and safe transportation of those people who are coming into our embassy.”

The situation in Kabul is calm but there is pressure around the airport; thousands of people are stranded.

He shared that Pakistan has set up an evacuation operation cell at the Ministry of Interior which has been operating since August 16. It has brought all stakeholders, including the interior ministry, foreign affairs ministry, CAA, FIA, ISI and Islamabad police, under one roof. The cell will accelerate inter-ministerial coordination for a quicker response.

“We are trying to facilitate the movement of evacuees coming in from land or air.” Facilitation centres have been set up at the Islamabad airport, and a crisis management unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Pakistan ran special flights to Kabul and flew out 542 foreign nationals and 91 Pakistanis. The country even gave permissions for overflights and allowed countries to use its airspace. Fifty-six such permissions have been given along with permission for landing. “So far, 17 airlines have benefitted from this.”

Nationals from 28 countries have been evacuated along with 293 World Bank officials.

Pakistan has facilitated 3,234 foreign nationals, which includes 323 Pakistanis.

The country wants to show that it is responsible and a partner in peace. We are working with one civil purpose: the safety and security of everyone.

Role of neighbours

Qureshi said that he will visit Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, and China to discuss with them the role they can play.

He said that they need to hold discussions on dealing with the refugee crisis, adding that the neighbours need to share responsibility and work on a coordinated regional approach.

When asked if Pakistan is ready to accept the Taliban-run government in Afghanistan, Qureshi said that discussions are underway in Afghanistan between different groups. The former rulers have fled now. Ashraf Ghani is in the UAE and cabinet members have fled too. There is a vacuum now and we don’t want anyone to take its disadvantage. “We want to move towards peace.”

He remarked that Pakistan is workings for an inclusive interim arrangement in Afghanistan which has “wider acceptability and broad-based representation”.

Afghanistan has a number of ethnic groups and all ethnic groups are important, Qureshi added.

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