Pakistan ties itself up in knots, says it has no favorites in Afghanistan

Days after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the Afghan Taliban won’t allow ISIS in Afghanistan, raising eyebrows in many capitals, Pakistan clarified that they have no favorites among Afghans and the statement was “misconstrued” by the media

Aug 02, 2021
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Pakistan-Afghanistan

Days after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the Afghan Taliban won’t allow ISIS in Afghanistan, raising eyebrows in many capitals, Pakistan clarified that they have no favorites among Afghans and the statement was “misconstrued” by the media. 

Qureshi’s comments last week, construed to be on behalf of the Taliban,  drew significant criticism as just days ago Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that his country was neither responsible for the Taliban nor they were their spokesperson. 

Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhary said on Monday, “The foreign minister clearly spoke about consensus among the international community, the regional players and the Afghans themselves against the menace of terrorism. His remarks cannot be in any way be misconstrued as advocacy for a particular side in the Afghan conflict."

“We have repeatedly stated that Pakistan has no favorites in Afghanistan. We see all sides in the conflict as Afghans who need to decide about their future themselves. We will continue to play a constructive facilitation role in the Afghan peace process," he added.  

With no peace deal in sight and Afghanistan pushing towards a full-blown civil war, the US and many western countries feel Islamabad hasn’t pressured the Taliban enough which continues to have safe heaven and training facilities inside Pakistan. 

Lately, as the situation deteriorates in Afghanistan, Pakistan seems to have been trying to distance itself from its responsibility. Significantly, until a few months ago, Islamabad had been projecting itself as an “indispensable” player to any solution to the Afghan conflict. 

Meanwhile, the relations between Kabul and Islamabad too have deteriorated as the latter’s refusal to shut down sanctuaries for Taliban and forcing the group for sincere peace talks. In a recent summit of SCO countries where PM Imran Khan was also present, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blasted Pakistan for sustaining their material support for the insurgent group. 

Last week, Khan, justifying the presence of the Taliban in Pakistan, said they were just “normal civilians” like any other Afghan refugees. President Ghani last month had said that over 10,000 fighters crossed over the border into Afghanistan and were fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban. 

A UN report also said that thousands of fighters belonging to various Pakistani Islamist and terrorist groups were fighting in Afghanistan. Media reports, too, showed hundreds of Pakistan fighters are being killed in Afghanistan. 

(SAM)