Pakistan says Afghanistan situation,
volatile, beyond Islamabad’s control

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ISLAMABAD: Expressing concern over Afghanistan’s situation as volatile and beyond Islamabad’s control, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf has said today (Friday) that situation in Afghanistan is grave, terming it “extremely bad and out of Pakistan’s control”.

Briefing the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, he warned of an impending risk of an attack by Tehreek-i-Taliban, who, he said, could enter Pakistan disguised as refugees.

He, however, denied the presence of the Taliban in Pakistan as of now, terming the reports “Indian propaganda”. “India is financially facilitating the propaganda and agencies have even made arrests in this regard.”

Yusuf said Pakistan was very concerned about the changing situation following the US drawdown and would be adversely affected by the growing violence and civil war in Afghanistan. “The region’s peace is conditional on peace in Afghanistan,” he added.

Yusuf further said that the Afghan government needed to work on improving relations with Pakistan if it wanted peace in the country. “[Also], I don’t see the US offering a financial package to Afghanistan and in that case, only Pakistan can provide a trade route to the landlocked country,” he said.

Pak National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf

The national security adviser stressed that the UN Refugee Agency needed to set up camps for Afghan refugees.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday said the strengthening of the ranks of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was not in the interest of Pakistan and categorically stated that the country would “not favour any sort of Talibanization”.

“The comeback of TTP is not in Pakistan’s interest. We do not want Talibanization of our country,” the foreign minister said in his remarks at the meeting of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, here at the Parliament House.

The foreign minister expressed concern over the chances of breaking out a civil war after the pull-out of military forces from Afghanistan and said Pakistan did not want such a scenario to repeat.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks at the meeting of Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

He stressed that “power-sharing” of different Afghan factions was the best option to avert a civil war. He said Pakistan desired an honorable return of the Afghan refugees, which he said, should be made part of the Afghan peace process.

The foreign minister said after the Taliban refused to attend the Istanbul Peace Process, Pakistan held a tripartite meeting with Afghanistan and Turkey.

On Afghan refugees, he called upon the international community to find a solution for their repatriation to their homeland.

Qureshi said Pakistan would welcome the support extended by China for the stability of Afghanistan.

On Iran, he said the relationship was getting stronger and mentioned the agreement with Tehran on establishment of border markets. He said Iran’s role in the peace and stability of Afghanistan was important and could not be ignored.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi also briefed the committee, saying that Pakistan intended to suggest power sharing in Afghanistan to avoid civil war.

He added that in case of a civil war in Afghanistan, Pakistan would not be able to handle the influx of refugees. He further stated that Pakistan wanted 300,000 refugees in the country to return to their own countries.

He also affirmed that he would not be “apologetic” during an important conference on Afghanistan he was due to attend in Uzbekistan in the coming days.

Qureshi said Pakistan was not the only stakeholder in Afghanistan and would firmly present its stance in the conference. “The situation in Afghanistan is worsening and holding Pakistan responsible for the [worsening] situation was not fair,” he said.

The foreign minister said Taliban had objections over Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s participation in negotiations, adding that they were “intelligent and had grown wise” over time. He added that Taliban had changed after Doha talks.

The minister said Afghanistan lacked the resources to ensure its security and Pakistan would have to prepare for dealing with the changing situation in the war-torn country as India wanted to sabotage the peace process there.

He added that India neither wanted stability in Afghanistan nor in Pakistan. “And we have informed America, European nations and others about this,” he said.