Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Afghanistan should stop blaming Pakistan for its internal problems and Islamabad was made a scapegoat by Kabul whenever its affairs were not moving in the right direction.
In an interview with Afghanistan's Tolo News at his office in Islamabad last week and released on Sunday, the minister said that Afghan leaders must show flexibility to move the peace process forward.
“Unfortunately when things aren't moving in the right direction, you [Afghanistan] are looking for scapegoats and the favourite scapegoat you have is Pakistan,” he maintained.
“When there’s failure within [Afghanistan] you blame Pakistan for that. Pakistan is not responsible for the failure within, for the squabbling going on in Afghanistan, if the Afghan leadership can’t sit and work out a peace deal,” he added.
The foreign minister said that the bulk of Taliban leadership was not in Pakistan but in Afghanistan. “We are only engaging with them [Taliban] to facilitate the peace process and try to be helpful and constructive,” he said.
On Sunday, Qureshi met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Antalya. They exchanged views on the latest developments in the Afghan peace process and withdrawal of international troops.
Qureshi congratulated his Turkish counterpart on successfully organising the forum attended by global leaders. He noted that the forum provided an excellent opportunity to discuss and engage on various contemporary global issues.
Taking stock of excellent bilateral relations between the two countries, the two ministers discussed the preparations for the 7th Session of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) to be held in Turkey this year.
Qureshi lauded Turkey's valuable efforts and its outreach to various Afghan parties. Underscoring Pakistan's abiding interest in a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan, Qureshi highlighted Pakistan's consistent efforts to facilitate the peace process.
He expressed hope that the Afghan parties would seize the opportunity and work out an inclusive politically-negotiated settlement.
The foreign minister also held an informal meeting with Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Secretary General Dr Hadi Soleimanpour. He called for joint efforts to counter the growing tendency of Islamophobia and religious biases in different parts of the world.
They discussed Pakistan’s vibrant role in the ECO, promotion of trade among member countries and other matters of mutual interest.
The foreign minister said in light of the ECO framework, Pakistan was making sincere efforts to promote mutual trade, economic development and regional peace and stability.
He also called for continuous cooperation to achieve durable peace, development and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
The ECO secretary general appreciated Pakistan’s active role in the organisation as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s participation in the virtually-held summit in March this year.
Separately, talking to CNN Turkey, Qureshi called for engaging with the Afghan government and Taliban for taking them onboard before pursuing a proposal of handing over the security of Kabul Airport to Turkey.
"It is important to engage with Afghan government and Taliban to tell them the objective of their proposal. They should get them onboard before actually going about doing it," the foreign minister said.
Qureshi said he believed that Turkey was providing services, including soldiers, to keep the airport open and maintain Kabul's connection with the world.
He further said after the postponement of high-level conference on Afghan peace process in April, he had decided to visit Istanbul to hold trilateral meeting with Turkish and Afghan foreign ministers to discuss the way forward vis-a-vis peace process.
"We are in touch. In my view the conference was a good initiative. It should have happened and Pakistan had supported it. And if they agree to hold one, we will continue to be supporting that," he remarked.
Talking to Azeri media, the foreign minister said Pakistan and Azerbaijan enjoyed a cordial bilateral relationship and recalled the visit of his Azeri counterpart to Islamabad when they discussed the future trajectory of the bilateral ties.
He said he was delighted to know that the Pakistani flag was also hoisted along with those of Azerbaijan after the country was victorious in the Nagorno-Karabakh war.
According to statement issued by the Foreign Office, Qureshi demanded that India must refrain from taking any further illegal steps in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), after already violating the international law and the UNSC resolutions through its illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019.
The minister called upon the international community, especially the members of the UN Security Council, to stop India from doubling down on its illegal actions in IIOJK and avoid imperiling the already volatile peace and security situation in South Asia.
"The foreign minister underlined that durable peace in South Asia can only be achieved by peacefully resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people," the FO statement read.
The minister reiterated Pakistan's firm resolve to oppose any Indian moves that sought to divide IIOJK to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, further dilute the distinct identity of the Kashmiris, and perpetuate Indian occupation of the disputed territory.
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