Staff Reporter Islamabad
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.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, 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 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.
“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. He said that he will discuss the potential influx of refugees, Covid-19 and other issues during his visit.
In a statement, Qureshi, clarifying that Islamabad was not focusing on any one particular group in Afghanistan, said Pakistan has no objection to India and Afghanistan developing cordial relations.
The foreign minister said the Indian media made a fuss over his ‘visit’ to Kabul and reported “irresponsibly” on it.
He called out the Indian media for not confirming facts before reporting on anything. “I did not go to Kabul, but held important meetings on Afghanistan in Pakistan,” Qureshi clarified.
Meanwhile, talking to his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde on telephone on Monday, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that no other country wanted a peaceful and stable Afghanistan more than Pakistan.
He said Pakistan wanted peace, stability and development in Afghanistan and is engaging with those who think about the Afghan people.
He emphasized that the immediate priority is to ensure safety, security and protection of rights of all Afghans.
He said that as a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan is fully facilitating several European countries, international organizations and media agencies to evacuate their nationals and others from Afghanistan. He said Pakistan’s efforts have been widely acknowledged.
He said international community must show solidarity and support with the people of Afghanistan, both in the humanitarian arena and economic sustenance.
The Swedish Foreign Minister conveyed her government’s deep appreciation for Pakistan’s assistance in the evacuation of Swedish Embassy staff and others from Kabul. Both the Foreign Ministers expressed the resolve to further strengthen bilateral
relations in all spheres especially in trade, education and innovation.
He further said that India will not serve the region if it sticks to the idea of humiliating Pakistan. He added that India has been claiming good relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan has no problem with the Kabul-New Delhi ties.
He said Pakistan will help the Afghans who want to go abroad. “Do not spread chaos [at the Kabul airport],” Qureshi appealed.
Afghanistan needs educated people for development, he said, adding that protection of life, respect for fundamental rights is essential for a prosperous Afghanistan.