Pakistan won’t host more Afghan refugees: FM

Qureshi says some anti-Pakistan elements could enter country in guise of refugees


Our Correspondent July 14, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. PHOTO: RP

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan will not welcome another influx of refugees from Afghanistan in case of deterioration of the situation there, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday, expressing apprehensions that some anti-Pakistan elements could enter the country in the guise of refugees.

In a statement from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, Qureshi stated that India, by playing the role of a spoiler in Afghanistan, was disturbing regional peace, and urged the international community to stop New Delhi from the negative attitude.

“Pakistan is the only country, which, despite its limited resources, is hosting 3 million Afghan refugees for decades, however, it cannot afford to welcome more refugees if the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates again,” he said in the statement.

“Since under the guise of Afghan refugees, some anti-Pakistan elements could enter the country,” Qureshi said, adding that it was an obligation to remain cautious. “Pakistan by sacrificing 70,000 lives and suffering huge economic losses has paid a heavy price in the war against terrorism.”

Read: FM Qureshi, Uzbek counterpart discuss Afghan peace, rights violations in IIOJK

He considered most of the Afghan refugees in Pakistan as innocent and expressed his desire that they returned to their country. “Pakistan wanted to help the Afghan people on humanitarian grounds, but also wanted to ensure the safety and security of its own people,” he added.

The statement warned that the neighbouring countries would be affected by the Afghanistan situation. Qureshi said that India should “let Afghanistan live with peace” and urged the international community to prohibit it from the negative attitude.

The foreign minister stated that Pakistan wanted to adopt a joint strategy on Afghanistan after consulting the important countries of the region. He added that he wanted to utilise his visit to Tajikistan to discuss the Afghan situation with important countries of the region.

“As Pakistan is fulfilling its responsibilities, the improved situation in Afghanistan will benefit all. If, God forbid, the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, all will be affected,” Qureshi said. “Pakistan also desires sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

He said after a detailed discussion already held with his Tajik counterpart on the situation in Afghanistan on Monday, he held meetings with foreign ministers of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan on Tuesday. He was also expected to meet the foreign ministers of China and Russia, he added.

Asking “how long fingers will be pointed towards Pakistan?” Qureshi urged the Afghan people not to repeat the mistakes of the past and find a way by sitting together. “We invite the important Afghan personalities for dialogue. Afghan leaders should sit and tell how we can help them,” he added.

The foreign minister is in Tajikistan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Foreign Ministers (SCO-CFM) meeting.

According to a Foreign Office statement, Qureshi discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan and the way forward during a meeting with his Afghan counterpart, Hanif Atmar. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s consistent support to a united Afghanistan, at peace with itself and with its neighbours.

Read more: ‘Blame game won’t serve region’, Qureshi tells Afghan counterpart

In view of the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, the foreign minister urged the Afghan leaders to achieve a negotiated political settlement at the earliest, stressing that such an outcome would bring peace, stability and prosperity to Afghanistan.

He expressed his concern on high level of violence, which had resulted in loss of precious lives. He emphasised immediate steps to decrease violence, leading to comprehensive ceasefire, the Foreign Office statement added.

Highlighting that negative statements could not cloud Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process, and that blame game would not serve the region, Qureshi urged his Afghan counterpart to address all concerns through established institutional mechanisms.

He told the Afghan foreign minister that Pakistan looked forward to hosting review meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) in Islamabad at the earliest. “Pakistan supports a peaceful and stable Afghanistan,” the statement concluded.

(WITH INPUT FROM APP)

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