Asia & Pacific

Islamabad Rejects Allegations of Pakistan’s Control of Situation in Afghanistan

MOSCOW (Sputnik), Ksenia Shakalova – Islamabad rejects all allegations claiming that Pakistan controls the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistani Ambassador to Russia Shafqat Ali Khan has told Sputnik.

In late August, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Islamabad “has a special responsibility” for the situation in Afghanistan “partly because of Pakistan’s close relationship to the Taliban*”. Many Afghans who oppose the Taliban have criticised Islamabad on social media, while the hashtag #SanctionPakistan trended on Twitter during the militant movement’s offensive and the fall of Kabul.

“So it’s not that we have a kind of a control over Afghanistan, but geography, culture, history, and, of course, language and the fact that there are four million refugees living in Pakistan. That gives us some kind of a role, but not control over a situation. The solution and dealing with the challenge is a collective responsibility”, Khan said, adding that Moscow “understands that point very well”.

The diplomat also said that “everyone knows you can’t dictate to Afghans” as proven by the country’s history.

FILE PHOTO: Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018.  REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

“I hope [that it is] not [NATO attempting to shift all responsibility for Afghanistan on Pakistan] because western countries understand that the withdrawal of forces does not mean that they have washed their hands. They can’t. Refugees are just one manifestation. There can be darker consequences: drugs, human smuggling, narcotics, terrorism”, Khan added.

Pakistan Ready to Respond to Terrorist Threat Emanating From Afghanistan

Pakistan is ready to respond to terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan but believes this problem requires international attention, Shafqat Ali Khan noted.

The diplomat mentioned that there are several issues linked to Afghanistan, including threats from “ungoverned areas that no one has control” over and funding of terrorist elements by “other countries”. The ambassador also said that there has been a spike in border attacks on Pakistani soldiers recently.

“And finally, one last point is that some foreign powers may think that it is only Pakistan’s problem. No, it’s not just our problem. Tomorrow a person fighting against Pakistan can join ISIS* and start attacking others. So overall, this problem has to be rooted out. But the key, one first step, is stability in Afghanistan for that”, Khan said.

Islamabad wants to cooperate with Moscow and other partners “to contribute to a broader, inclusive political government that will bring stability in Afghanistan”, the diplomat added.

Date Not Set for Meeting Among Afghanistan’s Neighbours

The date and place of a meeting among Afghanistan’s neighbours have not yet determined, the diplomat added.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has suggested holding such a meeting between foreign ministers of regional countries to discuss Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Taliban taking over Kabul.

“There has been discussion going on, but there is nothing concrete yet as such in terms of who will be the participants, when it will take [place], whether the place is confirmed. I don’t have any information to share on that. But what I can tell you is there are some ideas about that. No concrete details yet”, Khan said.

The diplomat also mentioned that the Extended Troika, which includes Russia, China, the United States, and Pakistan, is “the most important forum” when it comes to discussing Afghanistan-related issues.

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