‘Pakistan working on inclusive interim setup in Afghanistan’

A day before the crucial visit to regional countries over the Afghanistan crisis, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said that Pakistan was working on an inclusive interim arrangement in the neighbouring country which was acceptable to all stakeholders.

Qureshi is scheduled to visit Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Iran in a bid to find lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan following Taliban’s lightning capture of capital Kabul last week.

After quickly overrunning smaller administrative districts and provincial hubs, the Taliban fighters entered the Afghan capital Kabul on August 15 and seized power, taking control of the country for the first time in almost 20 years.

The government quickly folded, with President Ashraf Ghani and other key officials fleeing to safety abroad.

Read more: FM to undertake visit of regional countries

The Taliban have announced a general amnesty for state employees, encouraged women to participate in its prospective government, and pledged that Afghan soil would not be a springboard for harming any country.

However, several countries opted to shut down their missions and ordered immediate evacuations, causing panic.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad today, Qureshi said that very few embassies were still operating in Kabul. “If I am not wrong, only five [embassies] are still functioning and one of them is Pakistan,” he added.

He said that Pakistan has established a cell in Islamabad and the country was providing visa on arrival facility to the people coming from the neighbouring country. “Since August 16, five PIA (Pakistan International Airline) flights have operated between Kabul and Islamabad, evacuating hundreds of people,” he added.

The foreign minister said that nationals of 28 countries have benefitted from the facilities provided by Pakistan. “We have facilitated 3,234 officials of different international organisations,” he said and added that 293 officials of World Bank were also evacuated from Kabul.

Also read: Qureshi slams Indian media for reporting ‘inaccurate’ news about ‘Kabul visit’

He said that as a responsible country and partner in peace, Pakistan will continue to provide assistance in the evacuation process.

Qureshi said that Pakistan desired lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and was working on an inclusive interim arrangement that had wider acceptability.

“I have shared [Pakistan’s intentions] with many foreign ministers and they are in sync with us,” he said and added that Pakistan playing a critical role in these challenging times.

To a question, FM Qureshi said that the foreign ministers he had engaged with wanted Pakistan to help in the evacuation process. “See, Afghanistan is a country with number of ethnic groups… the wider the arrangement the wider the acceptability,” he said and added that he had a detailed discussion with his Chinese counterpart ahead of his visit to regional countries.

Talking about his objective for the visit, he said that Pakistan wanted to hear about the assessment of these countries on the issue and discuss the immediate challenges the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan were facing.

He said that the situation was more or less calm in Afghanistan. However, there were a few potential challenges. “First, we have so many people coming in and going out of Pakistan to Afghanistan… normally we have 25,000 to 30,000 people crossing the border… it is a huge number.”

He said that he will discuss the potential influx of refugees, Covid-19 and other issues during his visit.

Qureshi said that the opportunities in Afghanistan for the neighbouring countries would also come into the discussion. “How can we achieve regional connectivity and how can we achieve it… it is important to consult with them as immediate neighbours [of Afghanistan] have an important role to play,” he added.


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