Monday, August 16, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan aspires for peace in Afghanistan, the National Security Committee (NSC) reiterated Monday, as the Taliban took over the war-torn country after a lighting sweep.
The development came during the NSC meeting which was called to deliberate on the emerging situation in Afghanistan — with PM Imran Khan in the chair.
The NSC meeting was attended by senior cabinet members and services chiefs. Participants were briefed on the latest developments in Afghanistan and their possible impact on Pakistan and the region. The overall security situation in the region was also discussed.
The NSC noted that Pakistan was a victim of the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan and, therefore, desired peace and stability in the neighbourhood. It was emphasised that the world must recognise the sacrifices made by Pakistan over the last four decades.
Participants reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to an inclusive political settlement as the way forward representing all Afghan ethnic groups. It was reaffirmed that Pakistan would continue to work with the international community and all Afghan stakeholders to facilitate an inclusive political settlement in the country. Moreover, the meeting stressed that the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan must be adhered to.
The NSC noted positively that major violence had been averted thus far and called on all parties in Afghanistan to respect the rule of law, protect the fundamental human rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghan soil is not used by any terrorist organisation or group against any country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan directed that all possible facilities be made available to repatriate Pakistanis, diplomats, journalists and staff of international organisations seeking to leave Afghanistan. The Prime Minister lauded the ongoing efforts of the Pakistan embassy in Kabul and the state machinery in this regard.
The NSC reiterated Pakistan’s stance that the conflict in Afghanistan never had a military solution. The ideal time to end the conflict through negotiations might have been when the US/NATO troops were at maximum military strength in Afghanistan.
Continuation of foreign military presence for a longer duration now would not have yielded a different outcome. Therefore, endorsement by the Biden administration of the previous US administration’s decision of troops withdrawal is indeed a logical conclusion to this conflict, the NSC said.
It is now time for the international community to work together to ensure an inclusive political settlement for long-term peace, security and development of Afghanistan and the region.
President Ashraf Ghani fled the country Sunday and conceded the insurgents had won the 20-year war.
The astonishingly quick collapse of the government, with the Afghan Taliban taking over the presidential palace in Kabul Sunday night, triggered fear and panic in the capital.
Thousands of people were on Monday trying to escape Kabul with scenes of chaos as crowds gathered at the airport.
PM Imran Khan spoke to Turkey's President Erdogan on Sunday, with the two leaders reviewing the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan.
The prime minister had told Erdogan that the NSC would meet on Monday to further deliberate over the evolving situation. The two leaders would consult again after the meeting, to coordinate their efforts.
The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to continue all efforts in support of an inclusive political solution in Afghanistan.
A day earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had made it clear that Pakistan has "no favourites" in Afghanistan and would like to harbour good relations with its neighbours.
Speaking during a press conference in Islamabad, the foreign minister had said that "when the time comes, Pakistan will recognise the Taliban government in line with international consensus, ground realities, as well as Pakistan's national interests".
"Pakistan agrees that there should be no military solution to the Afghan issue and wants all problems to be resolved through dialogue," he had said, adding that the country's agenda is to see the development and prosperity of Afghanistan.
Qureshi had said that he will soon discuss the Afghan issue with the leadership of neighbouring countries, including China, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, adding that India, too, should work to resolve the Afghan issue.
He had said that the situation in Afghanistan is rapidly changing, however, the Embassy of Pakistan in the country is functioning normally.
"Pakistan has always played the role of a facilitator in Afghanistan and will continue to do so," Qureshi said. "It is our neighbouring country, therefore, we want to establish good relations with it."
Towards the end of his press briefing, FM Qureshi had said that the Afghan leadership must work together to find a solution that will save lives as well as the property of the Afghan people.