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Pakistan refuses to host more Afghan refugees

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has underlined the need for making arrangements to keep displaced Afghans inside their country.

Islamabad did not have the resources to host more refugees from Afghanistan. National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf told reporters in Washington on Saturday.

Dr Moeed Yusuf said that Pakistan cannot bear the burden of hosting more Afghan refugees. Addressing a press conference in Washington DC, Moeed Yusuf said that safe zones should be established within Afghanistan for the refugees.

File picture shows Afghan refugees at the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan

Responding to a question, Moeed said that Pakistan and the United States need to work together to address the security concern in Afghanistan. “Unfortunately, Afghan soil has been used for activities against Pakistan in the past,” he said, adding that the territory is still being used for subversive activities in Pakistan.

He said it was the responsibility of the international community to create a secure area inside the war-torn country for IDPs. “Why make them homeless? Make arrangement for them inside their country. Pakistan does not have the capacity to take more refugees,” the NSA remarked.

Yousaf scorned the suggestion that Pakistan still had the influence to force the Taliban to do what they did not want.

File picture shows Afghan refugees crossing the Pakistan border from Afghanistan

He added: “We have only minimal leverage. If we had the influence some say we do, we would have stopped them from destroying the Bamiyan Buddha in the 1990s.”

The NSA confirmed Afghanistan was the most important and immediate issue, he discussed with US officials. Peace in Afghanistan continued to be Pakistan’s main goal, which could be achieved only if all factions accepted a political solution, he said.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said during a press conference that the Afghan Taliban would not allow Daesh militants to infiltrate Afghanistan.

Qureshi reportedly also said that the Afghan forces had the capacity to combat Daesh in Afghanistan. The foreign minister also reiterated that peace in Afghanistan was necessary for regional stability, and Pakistan was consulting other countries in the region to ensure the development, prosperity, and uplifting of the war-torn country, according to reports of the press conference. 

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

However, President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday speaking during a “digital cabinet meeting” criticized the Taliban and said: “The Taliban has not changed. They don’t have the will for peace or for development in the country.” “The Taliban allowed the international insurgent groups into the country,” Ghani said.

The Taliban has denied involvement with the international insurgent groups. On Thursday, Fawzia Koofi, a member of the peace negotiating team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the talks with the Taliban, said that the presence of foreign Taliban in the northern regions of Afghanistan, particularly along the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border, is threatening the security of those areas.

She called for swift action to neutralize them.

Russia warns

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoyguv warned that Russia will act immediately if there is a threat emanating toward Central Asia from Afghanistan.

Chinese officials have expressed hopes that the Taliban will fight against the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” (ETIM) militants.

Dr. Moeed Yousuf

“Now the activities and movements of foreign militants have increased more than any time before along the border areas and in the strategic locations which have come under Taliban control, unfortunately,” said Koofi.

Based on a Radio Azadi report, foreign fighters reportedly with ties to Tajik militant groups are present in some districts of Badakshan including Kuf Ab, Shekay, Nusay Maimai and Khawhan.

The Russian defense minister also expressed deep concerns over the movement of Daesh fighters from Syria and Libya to Afghanistan.

“This is the collective responsibility of the international community to jointly combat the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. We hope that the Afghan Taliban draw a clear line to the terror groups and act against them seriously and robustly to remove the barriers,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry

US offer to refugees The United States said Monday it was ready to take in thousands more Afghans whose US links put them at growing risk but acknowledged an arduous path ahead for its allies as Taliban insurgents make gains.
Less than a month before the United States is set to end its longest-ever war, the State Department broadened refugee admissions beyond the roughly 20,000 Afghans who have applied under a program for interpreters who assisted US forces and diplomats.
The State Department said that greater priority will now also go to Afghans employed by US-based media organizations or non-governmental organizations or on projects backed by US funding.
“Afghans who worked with the United States or the International Security Assistance Force at some point since 2001 are facing acute fears of persecution or retribution that will likely grow as coalition forces leave the country,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters.
“We have a special responsibility to these individuals. They stood with us. We will stand with them.”
But he conceded the tough task ahead for asylum-seekers who first need to leave Afghanistan on their own and in most cases must wait more than a year for visa processing.