ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday directed his government to establish a special cell to monitor the volatile and evolving situation in neighbouring Afghanistan and avert its negative impact on Pakistan.
The prime minister issued the directions while chairing a meeting of the National Security Committee – a federal consultative body mandated to discuss and formulate policy on matters related to the country’s internal and external security – to discuss the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.
The South Asian nation, which shares 2,670-kilometer-long border with Afghanistan, has asked the international community since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on August 15 to extend humanitarian and economic aid to the war-ravaged country to avert regional instability and threat of global terrorism.
In this backdrop, the prime minister directed the establishment of a “dedicated cell to synergize various streams of efforts on Afghanistan across the government, including international coordination for humanitarian assistance and effective border management to prevent any negative spillover into Pakistan,” said a statement issued after the meeting.
The meeting was attended by relevant federal cabinet members, all services chiefs, and heads of intelligence services.
The committee members emphasized that the evolving situation in the region was “extremely complex” and any instability in Afghanistan could have severe implications for Pakistan.
“Agreeing with this view, the Prime Minister stressed the need for a coordinated policy effort,” the statement added.
The prime minister received a detailed briefing on the evolving regional security situation, particularly the recent developments in Afghanistan and their possible impact on Pakistan.
The statement said the committee reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful, stable and sovereign Afghanistan.
“The participants noted, with concern, the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and emphasized the urgent need for the international community to provide assistance to avert a humanitarian crisis,” it continued.
The importance of international coordination on constructive political and economic engagement with the interim government in Afghanistan was also highlighted during the meeting.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction on Pakistan’s support to the international evacuation effort from Afghanistan and noted that the entire world had recognized Pakistan’s positive contribution.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the meeting lasting nearly two hours and was attended by the entire political and military leadership, including the army, air, navy and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chiefs.
“All national issues were discussed in detail. The Afghanistan issue was also discussed. But none of those things can be talked about publicly,” he said.
Prior to the release of the photograph and video footage of the meeting, when Rashid was asked whether the meeting was attended by Lt Gen Faiz Hameed as the ISI chief or if the recently named Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum was in attendance, the minister said: “[The change of command] will take 8-10 days.” It was further confirmed that the outgoing DG ISI attended today’s meeting.
Prime Minister Imran and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have strongly lobbied for recognition of the Taliban regime by the international community and resumption of foreign assistance for Afghanistan. However, their efforts have made little progress.
A source hinted that the meeting might also review Pakistan’s relations with the United States. It was believed that the status of talks with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would also be discussed at the meeting.