Blaming Pakistan for Afghan unrest not fair: Imran

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Says Pakistan will be last to wish instability in Afghanistan; Urges Kabul to consider Pakistan as a partner of peace; Terms Uzbek president’s initiative for peace timely

Zubair Qureshi
Tashkent

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday asked Afghanistan to consider Pakistan as a ‘partner of peace’ rather than blaming it for the ongoing unrest, which he said was the ‘outcome of using a military solution by the United States instead of a political one’.

“Blaming Pakistan for what is going on in Afghanistan is extremely unfair…Peace in Afghanistan is our foremost priority,” the prime minister said, in response to the speech of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the conference on ‘Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities’ held at Congress Centre here.

Prime Minister Imran Khan urged Afghanistan to consider Pakistan as a ‘partner of peace’.

This was the second and the last day of the conference and immediately after his address, PM Khan held delegation level talks with Afghan President.

DG ISI Gen Faiz Hameed, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and senior cabinet members assisted him in talks.

Earlier in his address, Prime Minister Khan while commending Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s initiative for peace said it was quite timely, well-intentioned and the Central and the South Asian countries should grasp the opportunity and put aside their differences for the common good of humanity.

Rejecting the assertions President Ghani made against Pakistan for “not supporting peace”, the prime minister categorically stated that Pakistan did not want turmoil in its neighbourhood because peace was in its own interest.

“Mr Ghani, I want to make it clear to you that Pakistan will be the last country to think about supporting turmoil and unrest in Afghanistan,” he said.

The prime minister said Pakistan would continue to support reconciliation in Afghanistan and urged the Afghan stakeholders and the international community to gear up efforts for a “politically negotiated settlement”.

He said that he would not have visited Kabul in November last year if Pakistan was not interested in peace.

“The whole idea was to look upon Pakistan as a partner in peace. I feel disappointed that we have been blamed for what is going on in
Afghanistan”.

He mentioned that due to the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan suffered heavily in terms of its 70,000 casualties besides facing huge economic instability.

As Pakistan’s economy was recovering following a difficult phase, he said, the country wanted peace in its neighbourhood to ensure the completion of development projects for the betterment of the entire region.

Imran Khan said Pakistan had made every effort for peace in Afghanistan, including bringing the Taliban to the dialogue table.

However, he said the right time to engage the Taliban in negotiations was way before the pullout of the U.S. troops from
Afghanistan.

“Why would the Taliban listen to Pakistan at a time when they are gaining victory after the withdrawal of troops,” he pointed out, adding that the U.S.

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