Qureshi backs US plans for Afghan drawdown

Foreign Minister says withdrawal of American troops will lead to peace


Our Correspondent December 23, 2018
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. PHOTO: AFP

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday the talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban in Abu Dhabi last week was “a good thing” and the American withdrawal from Afghanistan would lead to peace in the war-torn country.

Talking to the reporters in Multan, the foreign minister said Pakistan was facilitating in reaching a negotiated-settlement of the conflict, and Islamabad would continue playing its role in bringing stability there.

“It is a good thing that the US and Taliban have agreed to sit together to hold talks. Progress was noted in some dialogue sessions and the stakeholders have expressed readiness to progress ahead,” he said, adding that the decision [of US withdrawal] will lead to peace in our neighbour.”

To a question about the worsening human rights situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, the foreign minister said Pakistan had consistently been raising the issue at all international forums, including the United Nations and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“Prime Minister Imran Khan called the UN secretary general and drew his attention towards the plight of Kashmiris,” he said. “The prime minister impressed upon the secretary general to use his influence over India to stop the abuses of human rights in held territory.”

Qureshi said he himself wrote letters to the OIC and the UN to highlight the barbaric treatment meted out to innocent Kashmiris by the occupation forces. Consequently, he added: “the OIC issued a strong statement and expressed grave concern over the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.”

He warned that the use of excessive force by India is further deteriorating the situation. He said the UN Human Rights report and the British House of Commons’ report both endorse Pakistan’s point of view that India is using pellet guns and other brutal methods to suppress the voice of the Kashmiris.”

Responding to a question, Qureshi dispelled the impression that talks were being held with the US for the release of Dr Shakeel Afridi in exchange for Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

He told a questioner that former PM Nawaz Sharif was given full opportunity by the courts to defend his case. He added the courts were free to make their decisions and serve the justice.

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