Pakistan can be most trusted interlocutor on Afghanistan; stop scapegoating it: Qureshi

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Torkham : Taliban commanders are performing their duties at Torkham border. – NNI, August 21, 2021

ISLAMABAD:Brushing aside the criticism of Pakistan for situation in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Saturday said that Pakistan wanted to be a partner in peace and could be the most trusted interlocutor in the evolving situation. “Listen to Pakistan. Stop scapegoating Pakistan. Pakistan wants to be a partner in peace. Pakistan can be the most trusted interlocutor in this evolving situation,” the foreign minister said in an interview with Al Jazeera television. He said Pakistan wanted an inclusive government in Afghanistan which respected human rights though the initial statements from leadership indicated a new approach. The foreign minister said Pakistan had been a facilitator of peace which had been acknowledged internationally too. Qureshi said Pakistan had been calling to keep the negotiation process in tandem with the date of withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Despite the fact that it was not consulted before giving the date of withdrawal, Pakistan remained positive. He said currently Pakistan was engaged in evacuation which was the immediate challenge for the international community. Pakistan embassy in Kabul is working round the clock with planes flying into Kabul and getting people out including diplomatic personnel and international organizations. “Are we being acknowledged? No. We are not even being mentioned in the list of countries that are helping evacuate people,” he commented. To a question, he said Pakistan had been blamed enough and recalled the “most absurd statement” of Ashraf Ghani alleging the infiltration of 10,000 terrorists despite even before the withdrawal of troops from there. Qureshi said Pakistan was part if international coalition for peace and was engaged with not only Taliban but entire Afghan leadership as the country wanted forward looking and see a peaceful Afghanistan which would lead to achieve Pakistan’s goal of regional connectivity. The foreign minister said Pakistan was a victim of war on terror. “We have 80, 000 casualties. We had economic loss of over $150 billion. We had to deal with two million internally displaced people. We are hosting over three million Afghan refugees the world has forgotten. And we are not responsible for 9/11. There was not Pakistan involved,” he saidHe said Pakistan was asked to do more when it engaged with the international community with sincerity. “We were doubted. We were questioned. We were telling the world that the kind of government imposed in Afghanistan does not enjoy political support. There is corruption. There is mis-governance. Nobody listened,” he remarked.

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