Tuesday Sep 28, 2021
LONDON: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday suggested the United Kingdom form "joint working groups" with Pakistan to address the human rights violations in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Qureshi's comments came during a press conference at the Pakistan High Commission in London after he concluded a meeting with the United Kingdom's Secretary of the State for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women and Equality Elizabeth Truss at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office in London.
The foreign minister is in London on a three-day official visit to the United Kingdom after the conclusion of his trip to New York where he attended the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Qureshi said that he shared a "well-researched dossier" with his UK counterpart on behalf of the Pakistani government in which over 3,000 war crimes and other human rights violations by Indian occupation forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been documented.
The minister lauded the UK for "playing [a] definitive role in addressing poor conditions of people of [the] disputed territory and help in securing Kashmiris' inalienable right of self-determination".
He also touched upon the issue of Pakistan's red listing, as well as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)'s decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour.
"I raised the issue with the UK foreign secretary that Pakistan not only bore financial loss but the unilateral decision also affected Pakistan's image," he said during the press conference. "Truss said that the decision was taken by the ECB and not the UK government, but she would convey Pakistan's message to the board."
Answering a question, Qureshi said that the topic of recognising the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan did not come under discussion, however, Pakistan asked the UK and the international community to talk to the Afghan government.
Qureshi, however, said he thinks the United States and the UK are "ready to talk to the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan".
"Like the rest of the world, Pakistan also wants peace and stability in Afghanistan," he said, adding that Pakistan's immediate concern is to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the war-torn country.
He said that the country is currently undergoing a crisis because $7 billion out of the $9 billion of Afghan money has been frozen due to a US court order.
During Tuesday's meeting, both countries decided to work closely to elevate their historic bilateral relationship, Qureshi wrote on Twitter.
Qureshi urged the UK and the international community at large to engage with the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan and "not repeat past mistakes."
He also invited Truss to Pakistan for the 5th review session of the Pakistan-United Kingdom Enhanced Strategic Dialogue.
A day ago, during a dinner hosted by the Pakistan High Commission in London, 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 also criticised the 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 stressing that Pakistan is ready to avert a possible humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, Qureshi had earlier reiterated that Pakistan is not in a condition to accept more Afghan refugees.
"Pakistan does not have the capacity to bear more Afghan refugees, Qureshi 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," he said.
Qureshi called upon the international community to play a positive role and engage with the newly-formed Taliban government in Kabul.