Abandoning Afghanistan will give space to chaos, terrorism: FM Qureshi

Initial statements that the Taliban have made are positive and encouraging, says foreign minister


Our Correspondent September 02, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. PHOTO: RADIO PAKISTAN

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the international community not to repeat the "mistake" of abandoning the people of Afghanistan, warning that doing so and not engaging with the Taliban would give space to terrorist organisations and lead to further chaos in the war-torn state.

FM Qureshi’s remarks came during an interview with British broadcaster SkyNews, where he stated that isolating the people of Afghanistan could be “dangerous”.

He recalled that the world had committed the same "mistake" in the 1990s and stated that the international community should not repeat it, for fear of a civil war, chaos and anarchy.

“That will give space to international terrorist organisations and we do not want their footprint to grow in Afghanistan”, he maintained.

When asked if he wants western powers to recognise the Taliban as legitimate rulers, the FM clarified that he was only asking for engagement, emphasising the consequences of disengagement.

“The initial statements that the Taliban have made are positive and encouraging,” Qureshi said, adding that the international community is not sure whether they will follow through.

With regards to the scepticism of the international powers, the foreign minister repeatedly asked them to “test” the Taliban to gauge the truth in their statements.

Herein, the interviewer questioned if Qureshi believed that the militant group had changed and could be believed.

“All I can say is I hope they have. I hope they've learned from their mistakes. They've suffered as well. They've been isolated. They should have learned from their mistakes, and I think the attitude they are demonstrating so far, is reflective of a different approach,” he replied, urging the international community once again to “test” them and build a relationship from there.

“They should, in my view, respect the international opinion and international norms. They need assistance. They will need humanitarian assistance, they will need financial assistance,” he said.

Read Pakistan wants coordinated strategy on Afghanistan: FM Qureshi

According to Qureshi, the consequences would be “economic collapse”, which is “far worse”.

The interviewer stated that the Taliban flag was raised in Pakistan when the Americans announced their withdrawal and that people cheered in the streets.

“If there was the raising of flags and jubilation, do not forget that there are over four million Afghans living in Pakistan. Many have connections with the Taliban. They may be related”, Qureshi remarked, adding that the Afghans, who have been living in Pakistan for decades, want to return home.

“The celebrations were about the prospect of returning home. Obviously, you know, gives them some sense of relief”, he further said.

Moreover, the interviewer stated that many Western capitals believe that Pakistan sponsored the Taliban, provided strategy for the Taliban, and allowed them to cross the border.

“There are some who are saying that actually in Islamabad, the government here is quite pleased that the Taliban have won. What would you say to those people?” he asked the foreign minister.

“That’s nothing new. One has been hearing this for four years now… Pakistan sincerely cooperated with the international community. Pakistan sincerely wanted peace and stability”, Qureshi said.

The minister further stated that the Taliban did not require Pakistan’s cooperation and that the militants were in Afghanistan, not Pakistan, while the Afghan government was negotiating in Doha.

“They didn't need our consent or our help. They were managing their own affairs”, he maintained.

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