Monday Sep 27, 2021
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday evening had a working dinner in London organised by Pakistan High Commission and said that both Pakistan and the United Kingdom have the same goals in Afghanistan.
Qureshi is in London on a three-day official visit after the conclusion of his trip to New York where he attended the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). During his visit, Qureshi is set to meet the chairman of the British Foreign Affairs Committee, members of the British Parliament, and his counterpart Elizabeth Truss at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.
Addressing the participants during the dinner, Qureshi touched upon several issues, including the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan's role in maintaining peace in the region and the issue of terrorism, among other matters.
Qureshi said that the Western media was trying to blame Pakistan for the situation in Afghanistan but it is the fault of the former Afghan leaders because of which the country is facing a crisis.
"Former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai — who held office from 2001 to 2014 — used to accuse Pakistan of interfering in his country's matters," Qureshi said.
He went on to say that the people of Afghanistan have been the ultimate sufferers of the political chaos in the country.
"The people of Afghanistan are tired of war and only want peace and stability in their country," he said.
Qureshi criticised Western countries' stance on Afghanistan and said that "they are trying to make Pakistan a scapegoat."
"[As opposed to the narrative of Western countries] Pakistan is not a safe haven for terrorists. Western media outlets should come here and see the situation for themselves," Qureshi maintained.
Shedding light on the establishment of the interim Taliban government in Afghanistan, Qureshi said that both Pakistan and the UK have unanimity in goals when it comes to the matter.
"The United Kingdom supports the idea of an inclusive government in Afghanistan, and this exactly what Pakistan wants too," the foreign minister said, adding that while the two countries may have different approaches to dealing with the situation, the goal is the same.
Qureshi also talked about the probability of a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and urged Britain to contact the Taliban government to resolve the issue.
He warned that if the world isolates Afghanistan, then there will be a refugee problem and people will turn to Europe for help.
"Pakistan is ready to be at the centre of relief activities in Afghanistan and will extend all possible support to the people there," said Qureshi.
While Qureshi stressed that Pakistan is ready to avert the possible humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, he had reiterated at the UNGA that Pakistan is not in a condition to accept more Afghan refugees.
"Pakistan does not have the capacity to bear more Afghan refugees, Qureshi had told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week as he met him on the sidelines of the UNGA.
"Pakistan has time and again called on the international community to help the Afghans and unfreeze the country's assets abroad after the Taliban took over the country in mid-August in a lightning sweep," he had said.
Qureshi called upon the international community to play a positive role and engage with the newly-formed Taliban government in Kabul.