No one taken in as ‘refugee’ from Afghanistan: Sheikh Rashid
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid on Monday clarified that so far no ‘refugee status’ had been granted to anyone in the wake of foreigners’ evacuation and takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Addressing a press conference, he said that on daily basis, many people come and return back from the Chaman border as per past practice related to the trade activities while there was no extra burden on the borders.
As per official data so far some 1,627 people from Afghanistan had to face Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) immigration process in Pakistan at the Islamabad airport besides 2,192 those who moved after clearance from FIA immigration at the Torkham border.
“Pakistan is a responsible state and will fulfill its responsibility of national security while meeting international expectations as a major country of the region with the objective to strengthen peace in Afghanistan,” the minister said.
“We have sacrificed more than any country in the world with 80,000 lives lost and over 100,000 people who suffer from different disabilities but still our morals are high with having the world’s most professional and sound army,” the minister added.
Sheikh Rashid said Pakistan expects respect and honour from the international world on these sacrifices just for maintaining peace and stability for the entire world.
“We are a major contributor for maintaining peace in the region and no one can even think of bypassing us,” the minister maintained.
In response to a question, he said that the Afghan Taliban had assured that they would not allow Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to use their soil against Pakistan.
The minister said that the Pakistan Army was proficiently accomplishing its responsibility to safeguard the country and performing duties on the borders.
He said that almost all Pakistanis had been evacuated from Afghanistan while around 30 to 40 Pakistanis were still in Afghanistan and wanted to stay back due to various reasons like having their family members there.
Rashid said that the government had fixed August 30 as the last date for those who were overstaying in Pakistan on the expiry of visas.
The minister further apprised that the government had issued visas for a further 21 to 30 days while around 600 to 700 people did not apply for visas or immigration.
“Pakistan has responsibilities to manage things as we have enemies like India who can use any sort of terrorist set up against Pakistan,” Rashid said stressing that Pakistan was a major player in international politics.
Rashid termed Indian TV channels programmes on the prevailing situation awkward, one-sided, and foolish.
He said that Pakistan was becoming the focus of international politics while on other hand Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) leadership was busy in domestic politics.
He made it clear that there was no threat to the government as it was strong and was backed by the people.
The minister said that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rehan should play a responsible role and avoid giving baseless statements like giving Pakistan’s land to other countries.
“We as a responsible country offer our support on humanitarian grounds to those leaving Afghanistan,” he added.
He said that Pakistan would welcome all those foreign nationals stranded in Afghanistan whether they were American or citizens of any other country. He added the government of Pakistan was providing them visas on arrival.
The minister said foreigners were staying at hotels, not any public place while bearing their own expenses.
He said that opposition leaders had no vision to understand the prevailing changing international scenario as the region is currently the focal point of international politics but Pakistan’s opposition parties had no acumen to realize this.
Responding to the PDM’s announcement of a march to Islamabad, while inviting PDM leaders including JUI-F Chief to come to Islamabad, Sheikh Rashid said, “They will be treated as per law and Constitution, which they truly deserve.”
Commenting on PDM’s public gathering, he said that the timing and place of their gathering were not appropriate as they were unaware of the prevailing changing political situation.
He said that the opposition had no capability to stand against the politics of Prime Minister Imran Khan who was serving the nation honestly and with a dedication to change the destiny of the country.
Rashid added that the opposition had nothing to convince people if they go for an election campaign and had to face historical defeat.
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