Saturday Aug 21 2021
Web Desk

Qureshi regrets 'no acknowledgement' for Pakistan's Kabul evacuation efforts

Web Desk
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks during an interview with Al Jazeera, on August 21, 2021. — YouTube
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks during an interview with Al Jazeera, on August 21, 2021. — YouTube

Pakistan has taken exception to its efforts to evacuate people out of Afghanistan "not being acknowledged" by the international community.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, speaking to Al Jazeera, said currently Pakistan is engaged in evacuation missions in Kabul which is the immediate challenge for the international community.

The Pakistan Embassy in Kabul is working round the clock with planes flying into the city and getting people out, including diplomatic personnel and staff of international organisations, he said.

 “Are we being acknowledged? No. We are not even being mentioned in the list of countries that are helping evacuate people," he regretted.

'Nobody listened'

The foreign minister pointed out that Pakistan had been a victim in the war on terror.

“We have 80,000 casualties. We [bore] economic losses 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," he said. 

“We are not responsible for 9/11. It was not Pakistan involved,” Qureshi said, adding 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 misgovernance. Nobody listened,” he remarked.

'Stop scapegoating Pakistan'

Brushing aside the criticism of Pakistan for the situation in Afghanistan, Qureshi 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 a partner in peace. Pakistan can be the most trusted interlocutor in this evolving situation,” the foreign minister said.

He said Pakistan wants an inclusive government in Afghanistan which respects 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.

'At least 1,100 people evacuated'

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram told CNN on Thursday that Pakistan was busy flying out diplomats, employees of international agencies, and journalists out of Kabul.

The ambassador said the Pakistani embassy in Kabul is open and busy processing visa applications of those eligible to travel, while the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was operating multiple flights.

Since Wednesday, 1,100 people had been evacuated, he said, adding: "Hopefully, we can get out at least 500, 600 each day out of Kabul."

A number of Afghans working for foreign embassies in Afghanistan have also been evacuated, ambassador Akram said.

'Perhaps a little thank you PIA would not be amiss'

Given Pakistan's efforts, Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said today that despite the PIA being banned from flying into the European Union countries, they had no trouble using its services to evacuate their citizens from Kabul.

"A point to ponder over: PIA banned from flying into EU countries but the same countries are quite okay using PIA to evacuate their citizens out of Kabul," she said.

"Ironic indeed. Perhaps a little "thank you PIA" would not be amiss!" she added.

Today, the foreign minister, while speaking to his Turkish and Russian counterparts, had highlighted the role played by Pakistan in facilitating the evacuation and relocation of personnel of diplomatic missions, international organisations, media, and others from Afghanistan.