Not in favour of interference in Afghanistan, says Maryam

US Charge d'Affairs Angela Aggeler lauds services of Shehbaz as former chief minister of Punjab


RAMEEZ KHAN October 14, 2021
US Charge d'Affairs Angela Aggeler lauds services of Shehbaz Sharif as former chief minister of Punjab. SCREENGRAB

LAHORE:

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Thursday reiterated the stance that her party was not in favour of any kind of “interference” in Afghanistan.

The PML-N leader made these remarks in a meeting with US Charge d’Affaires to Pakistan Angela Aggeler at her residence in Jati Umra, Raiwind.

Later, the US diplomat also met PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif at his residence in Model Town.

Seemingly in a bid to communicate to the international community, especially to the US, what PML-N would have done if it was in power, or what it would do if it comes to power in near future, Maryam said former premier Nawaz Sharif during his tenure held a non-invasive foreign policy and pursued a pleasant relationship based on mutual trust, peace and development with neighbouring countries and the international community.

Maryam said they considered Afghanistan their close neighbour and respected its sovereignty, adding that they were not in favour of any kind of interference in the war-torn country.

The statement, which is open to many interpretations, has not been given for the first time by the PML-N’s de facto leader.

She stressed that the PML-N wished a peaceful, developing and prosperous Afghanistan for the people, women and children of the country, adding that the entire world needed to contribute to the humanitarian aid for the war-battered nation.

“It is imperative that a congenial environment be created that would encourage the repatriation of Afghan refugees to their beloved motherland,” she said.

“Pakistan has sacrificed a lot in the war on terror. Nawaz Sharif in his tenure had built the narrative against terrorism and united the nation against this menace,” she added.

Maryam maintained that the PML-N represented the “true aspirations” of the people and believed in promoting peaceful coexistence, democracy, development and security.

“PML-N wants strengthening and nurturing of democracy and democratic values, for which it seeks to join forces with democratic forces of the world.”

Angela, during the meeting, was accompanied by consul general William K Makaneole and political officer Khatija Corey.

Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Pervaiz Rasheed, Khurram Dastgir, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Tariq Fatimi and Bilal Kayani were also present in the meeting.

Matters of mutual interest, Pakistan-US ties, regional and international security, situation in Afghanistan, women and children’s rights, health and education and ways to boost people-to-people contact between the two countries were discussed in the meeting.

Maryam conveyed Nawaz’s felicitations to President Joe Biden over his victory in US elections and conveyed goodwill from the people of Pakistan.

According to the PML-N media office, “The American diplomat acknowledged Pakistan's sacrifices in the war against terror. She [Angela] appreciated Maryam Nawaz's efforts for the rights of women, children, media, and human rights”.

Read: US envoy’s Karachi visit highlights ties with Pakistan

Later in the day, Angela held a separate meeting with Shehbaz at his residence. During the meeting over lunch, matters of mutual interest, regional issues and security, especially situation in Afghanistan came under discussion.

The US diplomat’s two separate meetings with the PML-N leadership again brought to the fore the clash of narratives that had somewhat divided the party into two camps.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Javed Latif, when asked to explain the statement of Maryam, said that the PML-N had always been against any interference within or outside [the country].

He said the people of the country should be given the right to elect their leadership free from any “local or foreign interference”.

Asked what Maryam was trying to imply by repeating her position on Afghanistan, he said it was a general statement, with no hidden meanings. “PML-N has long held the same position.”

“Today even the state is talking about bringing its own house in order. When we said such a thing in the past, we were accused of Dawn Leaks.”

PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb was not available for comments when contacted several times to explain why the press release issued in Urdu and aired on electronic media stated that “they were not in favour of any sort of interference in Afghanistan” while the one in English stated that “Pakistan was not in favour of any sort of interference in Afghanistan”.

Separately, the US Charge d’Affaires also met Acting Punjab Governor Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

According to a presser, Angela said US valued the role of Pakistan in the evacuation of Afghan refugees.

Appreciating Islamabad’s role in the war on terror, she said Pakistan was a key strategic partner of the United States.

The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi, Members of National Assembly Salik Hussain and Hussain Elahi.

During the meeting, bilateral relations, situation in Afghanistan and other issues of mutual interest were discussed in detail.

Commending the US cooperation in various fields including education, Elahi said Pakistan and America had a long-term relationship.

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