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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Focusing on averting internal Afghan conflict: Qureshi

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DUSHANBE: Pakistan’s current focus is on averting internal conflict and a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Thursday. In an exclusive interview with private news channel, Qureshi said that Pakistan is assessing the interim government before it makes a decision on recognising the Taliban government and consultations in this regard are underway.

“We are monitoring to see what is being done on the inclusion of various groups in the government,” he said. The foreign minister said that Pakistan’s first challenge was to facilitate evacuation of people from Afghanistan, and it succeeded in evacuating more than 13,000 people from the war-torn country. “Our next challenge is to save Afghanistan from internal conflict and a humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Pakistan aims to facilitate efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan, as it would benefit the entire region. Talking about the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council (SCO) — where he is present along with Prime Minister Imran Khan and other top officials — he said that Pakistan had already made a strategy with the council on Afghanistan.

He said the foreign ministers of China, Russia, and Pakistan had an important meeting today, where they had mulled over who was responsible for Afghanistan’s situation and what the way forward was now. The foreign minister said PM Imran Khan had met government officials from China and Kazakhstan, where he had informed them about Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan. Speaking about his four-nation tour to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran, last month, Qureshi said that he had taken up the issue of Afghanistan with the officials of all the said states.

The Foreign Ministers of Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran on Thursday here exchanged views on the latest developments in Afghanistan and the situation of peace and security in the region. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, China’s Wang Yi, Pakistan’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Iran’s Hossein Amir Abdollahian were meeting at the sidelines of the heads of state summit meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

The participants of the meeting expressed determination for promoting peace, security and stability in Afghanistan and the region. The ministers emphasized on national reconciliation and called for inclusive government in Afghanistan so that it should take care of the interests of all ethnic and political forces. During the meeting, they emphasized for collective efforts for countering threats to Afghanistan especially the danger of spread of terrorism and drugs trafficking.

The minister expressed concern on the precarious humanitarian, social and economic situation in Afghanistan and on the threat of influx of refugees to the neighbouring countries. They called for return of peaceful life and revival of economy in Afghanistan. Recalling earlier interaction with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during the latter’s visit to Pakistan in April 2021, the two leaders exchanged views on the entire gamut of bilateral relations. Matters relating to regional and global issues were also the subject of discussion.

FM Qureshi stated that relations with Russia were one of the key priorities of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistan was committed to furthering cooperation with Russia in trade, investment, energy, defence and people-to-people exchanges as well as collaboration at multilateral and regional fora including Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The Foreign Minister underscored the importance of peace and stability in Afghanistan for regional security and prosperity.

He emphasized the urgent need for promotion of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan in order to address food and medicine shortage in the country. Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined the need for the international community to remain engaged in Afghanistan.

The Foreign Minister further said that strengthening trade and investment relations and cooperation in energy sector were the cornerstones of engagement with Russia. In this context, Pakistan looked forward to holding of Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Investment in Russia later during the year.

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